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This book is the outcome of two very different 
sorts of experience : one, the teaching of philosophy 
in a typical American university; the other, the 
frequent discussion of problems of philosophic im- 
port before the larger public. Both of these ex- 
periences have convinced the writer that what our 
time sorely needs is an ethical reconstruction in the 
light of the new intellectual trends of the day, — 
a new grounding of the great verities of life and 
mind that will be convincing to the men who actively 
participate in contemporary civilization. 

Such an ethical reconstruction is made directly 
necessary by the fact that modern science has 
seemed slowly and effectively to have destroyed 
many of the old beliefs that were once the safe- 
guards of the moral order. How many, indeed, of 
those acquainted with the meaning of scientific prog- 
ress can retain any sure confidence in such intan- 
gible things as the Moral Ideal, or Immortality, or 
God, or the Freedom of the Will? In general men 
of to-day are divided into two great classes in their 
attitudes toward such matters; they either accept 
the agnosticism of science, or they take refuge in a 
faith that presumes to ignore science. Both atti- 
tudes have one thing in common, — a grievous lack 
of appreciation of the importance of the great veri- 



ties for practical life as expressed in the individual 
and in his social institutions. 

These attitudes of the contemporary mind are 
unfortunate, and ultimately disastrous. For what 
we are accustomed to call the great verities are of 
immense practical significance ; a faith in them which 
takes no account of modern scientific thought will 
end in inevitable doubt; and, while the agnosticism 
of science is sound so far as science goes, it is not 
final, since it happens that the logic of science is 
not the only logic there is. The difficulty is that 
most men of culture tend to think so. For the chief 
reason for the prevalent skepticism concerning life's 
fundamental problems is the widespread belief that 
the range of natural science and of human reason 
are synonymous ; that not only what science demon- 
strates is true, but that what it cannot or does not 
demonstrate is either beyond decision or is thereby 

One of the principal aims of this book is to show 
the utter falsity of this position. No one values 
the achievements of natural science more than the 
writer. No one is less desirous of disputing a single 
scientific fact or law. But he, in common with any 
one else who has investigated and taught scientific 
method, is naturally more cautious than is the aver- 
age man either in drawing sweeping conclusions 
from scientific hypotheses, or in assuming that rea- 
son has had its utmost say when natural science 
has given its last word. Eeason is larger than the 
reason of that special enterprise called science; it 
has other methods of proof precisely as cogent as 



are science's demonstrations. It is through such a 
reason that the writer undertakes to prove the 
truths we live by, — the truths which many men have 
practically abandoned, not so much because they 
have thought as because they have not thought 
enough. Grant if you please that many of the old 
arguments for the great verities are now foolish, 
this does not render the great verities themselves 
foolish, provided there are other reasons, in har- 
mony with science, that demand them and amply 
justify them. 

The writer begins with the concrete conflicts of 
our own day because they strenuously demand the 
great verities for their solution, and because out of 
them has already begun to emerge a desire, how- 
ever vague, for the spiritual reconstruction of civil- 
ization. Such a reconstruction is then attempted in 
an argument for a definite sort of moral order, fol- 
lowed by proofs of the truths essential to confidence 
in it — namely, Immortality, God, and Freedom of 
Choice. Then follows the discovery that the moral 
order reached is no more or less than what we mean 
by modern democracy when significantly interpreted. 
The final problem is to trace how far present ten- 
dencies, especially in current religion and in the 
general temper of the American people, are toward 
such a moral order and its great faiths. In dis- 
cussing religious tendencies, the writer has avoided 
matters of religious controversy, and has addressed 
himself to religion only as it touches practical con- 
cerns. He has tried to make clear the invaluable 
function of religion in civilization; and it may be 



that his message will he of help to those in religious 
doubt, as well as to those who teach the great veri- 
ties in the name of religion, and who face the many- 
logical difficulties now in their way. 

Obviously, this book is not written for profes- 
sional philosophers. It is written for men and 
women of average education who have not special- 
ized in philosophy, but who are, nevertheless, in- 
terested in life's greater problems. There are not 
many technicalities. Yet, the intention has been to 
be exact ; and when the choice has been between ease 
of style on the one hand and precision on the other, 
the latter has been favored. Beneath all that ap- 
pears in these pages there is, of course, a systematic 
philosophy of things, a world-view, which is the 
deeper foundation for what is here visible. 

J. W. H. 






I. The Present Conflict of Ideals 3 


II. A Solution Proposed 

III. The Conditions of Moral Confidence . 

IV. The Philosopher, the Poet, and the Prophet 
V. Modern Science and the Great Verities . 

VI. The Proof of the Truths We Live By . 



VII. Immortality as a Problem for To-day .... 119 

VIII. The Modern and His God 162 

IX. Are We Masters of Our Fates? 195 



X. The Moral Order as Democracy 247 

XI. Moral Confidence and Religion 258 

XII. The Renaissance of Moral Faith 280 

Index 301 






There have been ages of moral conflict, and there 
have been ages of moral skepticism. This age is 
both. Practically, men are resolutely fighting for a 
multitude of ideals, so there is moral conflict; theo- 
retically, they are in great doubt, and there is moral 
skepticism. For the man of to-day tends to regard 
the truth about life's ideals as merely a point of 
view; and are there not many points of view, each 
justified in its own way! Uneducated men may still 
believe that there is a never-changing distinction 
between right and wrong, — that is, between good and 
bad ideals of life; but the mind attuned to modern 
culture is inclined to think that right and wrong 
and the ideals they serve are chiefly matters of con- 
vention. What is clearer than that all morals grew 
out of the passing stress of circumstance; that what 
is good in one age is bad in another ; and that even 
in the same age morality varies with race and coun- 

So, theoretically, the contemporary man tends to 
be a moral skeptic. Of course he is ready to insist 



that this does not mean the breakdown of morals, 
or that any one may do as he pleases. There are 
ways of living to which every sensible person will 
conform. The sensible man will regard the cus- 
toms and institutions of his country with a decent 
respect ; otherwise the welfare of society would not 
be secure for one moment. Yet if asked further 
just what this "welfare of society" really means, 
this same sensible man is not certain to the point 
of denning it; and surely he does not desire to be 
pressed regarding it. In fact he very much fears 
that any attempt at close definition may lead to 
moral dogmatism, — which he considers a very bad 
thing for that most praised of modern intellectual 
virtues, open-mindedness. 

When any one, opposing this skeptical view, insists 
upon discovering any hard and fast distinction be- 
tween what is right and what is wrong, he straight- 
way risks being dubbed "old-fashioned," hopeless- 
ly behind those who count themselves among the 
"liberated" and the "enlightened." For the en- 
lightened man of to-day knows something of history. 
He looks back over thousands of years and views 
a bewildering panorama of quite various moral 
ideals bitterly battling with one another for recog- 
nition ; conquering one by one ; going down to defeat 
one by one ; dominating this civilization and that in 
turn; each passing to f orgetfulness ; each super- 
seded; each rising again; and all surviving inex- 
plicably to continue the never-ending struggle in 
his own civilization. He may well ask, 



Where is any certain tune 
Or measured music in such notes as these? 

If there is any absolute moral standard, what is it? 
Custom? But there are all sorts of conflicting cus- 
toms. Which of them is right? Laws of nature? 
But even laws of nature change with man's knowl- 
edge; and besides, one cannot violate a law of na- 
ture anyway, even if one would. And where one 
can do no wrong no morals are at stake. Laws of 
men? But legislators are fallible and legislatures 
differ, and men have never held much moral awe for 
them. Laws of God? But there are many supposed 
revelations of God's will, and each has its multitu- 
dinous interpretations. Conscience? But people's 
consciences differ surprisingly, and even the con- 
science of the same person is bamingly uncertain and 
often inconsistent at different times. Is happiness 
the true ideal of men ? But what is happiness ? How 
is it measured? And how can one foretell what 
deeds will bring happiness or misery in the long 
run? Is it asceticism, the mortification of the flesh? 
Perhaps. But this, or such other prominently urged 
ideals as the life of reason, or the glorification of the 
mil in the life of deeds, are either very vague or 
insist upon fighting with each other and with all the 


If one should choose from all these various con- 
flicts one example for conspicuous emphasis, one 



might select the current conflict between the moral 
motive of pleasure on the one hand and that of 
self-sacrifice on the other, — both prominent and con- 
tradictory motives of contemporary life. The 
contradiction of hedonism and sacrifice, of the pleas- 
ure-seeker and the ascetic, is of course not new; it 
has furnished one of the most picturesque contrasts 
to be found in history. It has afforded light and 
shadow for many a dramatic use, and has dominated 
the meaning of entire civilizations. These two con- 
tradictory spirits, the worldly and the unworldly, 
are ever with us. We very frequently find them in 
our own persons, each clamorous for expression, 
each denying the other. The story of the Puritan 
and the Pagan, both living in the same body, ever 
warring with one another, one looking out on the 
world with the eye of duty, the other with the eye 
of beauty, going to the same grave together, by 
whose gray stone grows the red rose, — such a story 
has a strangely intimate appeal to such Americans 
as seriously embody their country's moral history. 
From one point of view our age is indubitably 
an age of pleasure-seeking. Ours is the hedonistic 
creed. One way of finding the temper of a people 
is to observe the social sets that are looked up to for 
guidance and emulation. Now, it is clear that Ameri- 
can social sets exist not primarily for intellectual 
or even esthetic culture, but for the achievement 
of pleasure. For society in America, this has be- 
come a strenuous social business, and has almost 
assumed the character of a social art. This hedon- 



istio ideal is the real meaning of the insistence upon 
such personal qualities as pleasing manners, genial- 
ity, cleverness, and savoir faire. The highest com- 
pliment that one person can yield another is the 
hedonistic tribute that he or she is "charming." 
Again, this ideal is the real reason why foreigners 
find that among us such topics as religion, business, 
and politics are discouraged in polite conversation. 
For conversation must possess the hedonistic charm 
of freshness, vivacity, wit, and an engaging and sym- 
pathetic intelligence which leads thought in pleasant 
places without requiring intellectual work. This he- 
donistic ideal needs wealth to make it possible, and 
is the deeper meaning of wealth as a social advan- 
tage. Such hedonism is expressed in the dress of 
the American woman, causing her to be considered 
by many as the best dressed woman in the world. 
This hedonism, requiring wealth for its satisfaction, 
is most of all to be found in the " social function." 
Here it is that society as a hedonistic art comes to 
its expert expression. And the people at large tend, 
within their limits of opportunity, to adopt this same 
search for pleasure as a secondary religious creed. 
They take it so seriously that it is hard, nay, al- 
most impossible for Americans to cultivate the vir- 
tue of thrift. It is this hedonistic ideal that causes 
them to live beyond their incomes. With multitudes 
of people the right to achieve pleasure is even the 
fundamental moral duty, and its achievement the 
supreme test of the successful life. 
But current life presents a contradiction to all 



this, that challenges such an estimate of the Ameri- 
can people as utterly false. The American is no 
soft player of lutes in a court of fountains. He is a 
fighter; and his capacity for quiet sacrifice and 
heroic suffering is one of his conspicuous traits, 
and one which he admires most in the men that have 
made America what it is. Fortunate has been the 
public man who could point to the humble log cabin 
as his birthplace; it is the symbol of struggle and 
privation. No people in the world are more suscep- 
tible to the appeal of great causes that demand the 
devotion of combat and self-abnegation. If the cause 
is great enough they will "give until it hurts" of 
money, of comforts, yes, of flesh and blood. There 
is something deeper than the search for pleasure in 
American life, something that contradicts such a 
search as small and low and superficial. It is to be 
found in the strenuous hardness and courage of its 
millions of business men and women, of its thou- 
sands of teachers who subsist on little pay, and en- 
dure much privation for the conviction of a work 
worth while. While the American is too sober of 
mind to seek anything so fantastic as martyrdom, 
he is of the spirit of which martyrs are made. Even 
much of his play is the play that demands capacity 
for hardship, as prize-fighting and football. A trans- 
continental air-race, involving accident and death, 
appeals to the American as a sport supremely of 
his mood. It is a reflection of his hardy ideal of 
This, as well as the other contradictory outlooks 



upon life, occur to-day not only in different sets of 
men opposing one another; they are just as likely 
to belong to one and the same man. John C. Van 
Dyke mentions that the Italian of the Renaissance 
was a paradoxical being, full of the most surprising 
contradictions. "One side of his nature was often 
aspiring, inventive, artistic, philosophical; the other 
side was quite as often skeptical, treacherous, im- 
moral, polluted. He could doubt and he could believe 
with equal freedom; he could be cultured and yet 
debased; he could saturate himself with crime and 
corruption, yet rhapsodize over things esthetic and 
kneel at the altar of Christianity. Our nineteenth- 
century wonder at this strange marriage of Beauty 
and the Beast is perhaps pardonable. How a man 
could be enlightened, refined, devout, brave, and yet 
break almost every one of the ten commandments 
we fail to understand." x The American, while for- 
tunately not this undesirable blending of good and 
evil, is yet as contradictory in his own way. The 
same man is rational and credulous, practical and 
idealistic, a pleasure-seeker and a heroic exemplar 
of impossible sacrifice. In him are apt to be all the 
contradictory ideals that we have named. And like 
the man of the Renaissance, he knows not that it is 
he himself, that it is these very contradictions in 
himself, that are at the bottom of most of the prob- 
lems he now struggles with and futilely seeks to 

1 Memoirs of Benvenuto Cellini, translated by John Addington 
Symonds, Introduction. 



solve. Indeed, it is manifest that up to quite recently 
most men were relatively unconscious of even the 
existence of these glaring contradictions of their 
times ; and even now only the few realize them and 
are prepared to confront them "belligerently. For to 
say that there is any absolute distinction between 
right and wrong is to raise unwelcome difficulties. 
It seems the same as to say that some one of this host 
of conflicting ideals has an absolutely proved prece- 
dence over all the others. For conduct can be said 
to be right only as it leads to whatever is the true 
ideal, and wrong only as it leads away from it. But 
who knows enough to settle what is this true ideal? 
To attempt to do so would be arrant presumption, 
would it not? 


Even if it were decided quite rationally that one 
of these moral standards is the only true one, as, for 
example, the ideal of pleasure, the crucial question 
of modern times would still remain: Do we mean 
the pleasure of society or of the individual? Which 
is first? In actual practice the world is greatly 
divided on this question. To-day the most glaring 
contradiction of all in every civilized country is the 
contradiction between the individual and society, be- 
tween personal liberty and social control. On the 
one hand, it appears to be an age in which the indi- 
vidual has at last found himself and asserts himself 



and clamors for his rights. The individual has be- 
come so conscious of himself that it sometimes seems 
that he is conscious of nothing else. American 
civilization has always meant an unprecedented 
emphasis upon the value of the individual ; and this 
has meant an unprecedented emphasis upon his pos- 
sibilities and his rights. In any country, men have 
ever wanted what they had not ; but the individual 's 
right to want things, and more, his right to get his 
wants fulfilled, have never been stressed as in 
America. This stress has been achieved in various 
ways. The average American has been gradually 
attaining a new self-appraisement through demo- 
cratic education, which ever breeds introspection, 
and through the democratic spread of the numerous 
modern agencies that lift even the wage-earner's 
thoughts beyond his sphere, and the visions of the 
ordinary business man beyond his desk and counter. 
The theater — not least the moving-picture theater — 
the novel, increased travel, the magazines and the 
newspapers, and now, at last, a new world-outlook, 
are among the obvious means by which has been 
awakened in almost every man an appreciation of 
the life he might be living, compared with the life he 
actually lives. To this same man, American democ- 
racy comes with its gospel of the equality of all 
men, verified now not only through the practical 
sovereignty conferred with the ballot, but by the 
recent vision of suffering and death for democratic 
ideals. Through this startling sacrifice, the indi- 



vidual not only knows Ms value as a theory, but 
proves it as a triumphant fact. It is his supreme 
vindication ; through it he is utterly awakened. The 
"commonwealth of kings" is no longer a poetical 
flourish. The recent American feels his power ; his 
desires have become demands and his ideals edicts. 
Yes, the late world-conflict, by its emphasized issues 
and by the nature of its victory and ensuing peace, 
has ushered the individual into a sudden, self- 
conscious maturity. True, it achieved social sol- 
idarity as never before; this was a war-time asset 
of priceless worth. But how was it achieved? By a 
paradox. By a new and unprecedented stress upon 
the dignity and rights of the individual man. This 
stress survives while the new social solidarity wanes 
as a transient phenomenon. The latter failed to 
attain the dignity of a fundamental motive. 

Yet, in spite of this arrant individualism, never 
was there such an age of social organization and 
insistence upon imperative social obligations that 
nullify the boasted rights that belong to the indi- 
vidual as such. Never was individual liberty so 
threatened by social constraint. Never was there 
such a passion for making laws to curb the indi- 
vidual; even what he shall eat and drink is pre- 
scribed, or at least proscribed! Yet, on the other 
hand, never was law more ignored and defied and 
contravened. Has the individual at last asserted 
his sovereign rights even in industry, and is he 
eloquent concerning the coming industrial democ- 



racy? Well, social organization in the form of gov- 
ernment has been known to enjoin him even from 
the sacred right of striking. This reign of social 
imperatives reaches to conscripting by public 
opinion the individual's contributions to what he 
used to consider as "charity," a purely voluntary 
thing to which he might or might not give, as he 
freely chose. For the idea of charity has given way 
to that of social justice, and the modern ' ' drive ' ' for 
contributions has the immense weight of the social 
force behind it. Never was the individual so boldly 
clamorous; yet never was the individual so utterly 
annulled ! It is by contradictions like this that social 
orders are revised or destroyed. 

So crucial has this conflict between the individual 
and society come to be, especially in politics and in 
economics, that to many it seems to threaten the 
dissolution of democracy. How far may social 
organization, political or other, encroach upon the 
individual? How far do inalienable personal rights 
extend, — rights which no social obligation, no social 
force, may justly ignore? Is there, after all, any 
solution to this now acute question except the tem- 
porary solution of compromise after compromise, 
each trembling upon the edge of an unstable equilib- 
rium that means revolution? This skeptical attitude 
is quite prevalent. To many, a resolute attempt to 
solve this problem seems premature. The world is 
still young. It is prudent to wait for the further 
evolution of civilization. 




Thus, the attitude of the contemporary man 
toward the ever-present conflict of these and other 
moral ideals continues to be one of skepticism. 
Theoretically, that is, he is not prepared to prove 
absolute and abiding moral convictions. Practically, 
he is fairly loyal to institutions as they are (if they 
are not too much in his way), with a faith in their 
inherent power to progress somehow and to achieve 
something worth while for him as time goes on. 
Practically, he will fight with all his soul for what 
he deems to be right, else the present practical 
conflict of ideals would not be so healthily vigorous. 
But bring him to the realm of theory, and he is sud- 
denly uncertain. It is not that the modern man is 
without ideals, but his is an idealism whose ideal 
is left undefined, in the mood that says with a some- 
what splendid faith, 

Oh yet we trust that somehow good 
Will be the final goal of ill. 

To give all the reasons for the advent of this 
moral conflict and its accompanying skepticism 
would be impossible. Of course it is partly the re- 
sult of our large inheritance of accumulated conflicts 
of history. One very obvious cause is the quite 
sudden fruition during the last century of a bewil- 
deringly versatile civilization, which took us un- 
awares and challenged into life exceedingly contra- 



dictory traits in human nature, which have not yet 
had time for proper organization and adjustment. 
But there are two immediate causes that especially 
stand out. I refer to the influence of modern science 
on the one hand, and of the World War on the other. 
The former has meant a theoretical revision and the 
latter a practical revision of many of our attitudes 
toward life. It is well to consider these two influ- 
ences briefly. 

Indubitably this is an age of science. In terms of 
science it is that we hope at last to interpret and 
master both nature and ourselves. Through science 
man has at length approximated to the " rational 
animal" that Aristotle somewhat prematurely said 
he was. In science we trust ; science that has become 
synonymous with reason. Nature once had her 
unexplored regions, — regions of mystery where the 
gods still hid. But now all regions are either 
science's own, or are in the process of becoming her 
own. By science, even society has been relentlessly 
rationalized in its economics, its politics, and its his- 
tory. There is no further room here for mere 
traditions, however sanctified by time. And this 
science of which we boast does not stop in its con- 
quest with the formation of theory; it invades all 
practical affairs under the name of " efficiency, ' ' 
which is reason applied beyond what we think to 
what we do. Even the arts, the last refuge of 
inspiration and the divine afflatus, have not escaped 
the scientific analysis that would strip naked the 



empty pretention of their mysteries and reveal them 
in their anatomy. Down into the very depths of 
consciousness has science probed in the name of 
psychology, until at length, the most sacred emotions 
and the most complex functions of imagination and 
dreams have been duly analyzed into their elements, 
catalogued, and numbered. By this same science 
the portals of religion have been stormed, and the 
pulpit now argues from premises of a religion scien- 
tifically assayed. By the reasoning spirit of this 
same science the stronghold of patriotism has been 
taken, its old loyalties dissected, and the blind pas- 
sion that warred against a world of enemies has 
been transmuted into the rationalization of dis- 
cordant nations in a world-league. Yes, it is in- 
dubitably an age of science. 

How has this triumph of scientific reason affected 

Moral ideals were once accepted on faith from 
age-long tradition. Tradition was enough. But 
through the influence of modern science, tradition, 
which once bequeathed immutable faiths, has lost 
much of its sanctity. A moral ideal that is based 
merely upon tradition and custom is now regarded 
as quite insecure. It may be a broad tentative guide 
to right living, since it is a summing up of the accu- 
mulated experiences of the race; but scrutinized 
modernly it yields nothing certain. For science re- 
minds us that the customs of men that eventuate in 
moral laws are nothing more than the products of 



the struggle for existence, and depend upon such 
prosaic contingencies as the particular conditions 
under which a people happens to live, as climate, 
soil, topography, and the natural foes and social 
retardations that must be overcome to make life 
possible. Change the circumstances and you change 
the customs; and casual inspection shows that the 
circumstances change vastly with a shift of locality 
or with the lapse of a few centuries. 

Nor will science any longer allow morals to find 
an immutable foundation in divine revelation. The 
general impression is that science considers revela- 
tion irrelevant because it involves that unscientific 
impossibility called a miracle. At any rate, speak- 
ing most conservatively, revelation true or false is 
utterly outside accepted scientific method and dem- 
onstration ; and to say this is to say that for many 
cultured minds revelation is growingly doubtful as 
an approved source of moral truth. 

Nor does the authority of conscience fare any 
better. Analyzed by scientific race-psychology, the 
conscience of the individual is shown to be merely 
the unconscious summary of the traditions of the 
society of which he is a product. The seemingly 
imperative nature of its commands is easily ac- 
counted for by the fact that conscience is the long 
creation of heredity and of environment, including 
the countless influences of the society into which one 
happens to be born. As in the case of custom, so 
with conscience, 



New occasions teach new duties; Time makes ancient good 

Other moral standards have shared the same fate 
at the hands of science, as we shall see later. 2 

The result of all this upon the man of modern 
culture is insidiously subtle. He has learned to put 
faith in science's deliverances as final. And since 
science cannot justify the moral standards to which 
most men have been accustomed, he tends to feel 
skeptical about the demonstrableness of any moral 
standard whatever. 

Long before the World War, science had already 
achieved the theoretical break-up of traditional be- 
liefs ; it remained for the war to make a tremendous 
practical revision of them. For most men it was 
a cataclysm of such suddenness and of such immen- 
sity that they tended to lose what fragments of faith 
they still had in the inherent triumph of righteous- 
ness, and to transfer their allegiance to materialistic 
efficiency, with its logic of force, as the only real 
guarantee and meaning of the right. Further, the 
war had the effect of undermining the stability of 
institutions centuries old, as if their foundations 
were built upon the sands' of caprice instead of upon 
the rock of rational authority. The result is thai 
the great masses of men have now far less reverence 
for the social order and its apparently impregnable 

And finally, out of the war an age of reconstruc- 

ȣ/. Chapter V. 



tion has come, eager enough and hopeful enough, but 
motived by such a bewildering chaos of divergent 
social purposes that moral caution and doubt have 
gained respectability as the safe and sane attitude of 
reasonable men. 


What are the bearings of this widespread conflict 
of ideals and of this moral skepticism upon the wel- 
fare of the contemporary man ? What are its effects 
upon contemporary social institutions and the state? 
Is moral skepticism a good thing? If it were a skep- 
ticism of despair, it might seek a way out of an 
intolerable situation, and so be a skepticism of prom- 
ise ; but suppose it is a skepticism of indifference? 

Such a skepticism of indifference means an arrest 
at the very center of moral progress, namely, the 
arrest of the progress of moral truth. It also means 
an arrest of practical progress along any certain 
highway, at a time when significant moral problems 
are demanding immediate solution as never before. 
Every institution of mankind is involved in the 
present warfare of ideals. It is found in the com- 
peting purposes of even those who are by profession 
the moral instructors of the times, the preachers 
and educators, evinced in widely divergent public 
preachments and in lustily jousting ideals of educa- 
tion. It reveals itself in the vastly varying interpre- 
tations of society and of the history of society; 



interpretations economic, psychologic, materialistic, 
spiritualistic, biologic. Even the arts do not escape 
a conflict of motive and purpose that has its direct 
moral significance. This moral conflict becomes 
crucially obvious in contemporary conceptions of the 
state in its relation to its citizens, in the goals of 
its hope, in its doctrine of sovereignty, and in its 
theories of obligations and rights with reference 
to other states ; voiced most loudly in the fight, in 
the interests of a melee of motives, for and against 
a League of Nations. The same conflict is shown in 
the current definitions of democracy; and most 
prominently of all in the realm of industry, through 
the revolutionizing battle increasingly acute between 
Syndicalists, Anarchists, Socialists, and Bolshe- 
vists; between conservatives and radicals; between 
capitalists and wage-earners; between producers 
and consumers; a battle which is at bottom a war 
of moral ideals in their application to current life. 
True, some of these conflicts are born of great prac- 
tical loyalties ; but most of them are made ineffective 
or abortive by a lack of rational understanding and 
hence of rational competence. I fear that here we 
come to the very heart of the present unrest in 
America. It is not merely the unrest of dissatisfied 
wants ; it is that much more serious thing, the unrest 
of not knowing what is wanted. It is the unrest 
of the man who craves something to satisfy his 
palate, but knows not just what it is he craves. The 
appetite is normal enough ; it simply has not defined 



itself sufficiently. It is thus an experimental unrest, 
which seeks and tries and rejects and accepts in 
accordance with a desire that is indeed very real, but 
which is so vaguely defined that it is not yet a suf- 
ficiently self-conscious criterion to be practically and 
decisively applied. Thus the experimental and ten- 
tative character of American social reforms. Ask 
any cultured American what the ethical ideal of 
American progress is ; he will very likely be at utter 
loss for an answer. Submit to him the various pos- 
sible moral ideals, and he will probably not know 
what to say. He is not accustomed to bringing his 
ideals, his wants, into such definite consciousness, 
and he does not like to be forced to the issue. 

It is inevitable that an age of moral conflict and 
skepticism should attain its hazardous results in the 
regions of personal righteousness. To put the mat- 
ter in an easy way, it is a difficult time for the birth 
of a new generation. The standards of the home, 
even the criteria for the rearing of children, have 
broken down. The leisure occupations of youth, 
always symptomatic in any age, are not only un- 
guidedly and frankly hedonistic but across the 
borders of what was once considered decorous ; not 
because of a new and liberalizing moral standard, 
as is sometimes pretended, but because of the lack 
of any. The popularity of certain recent dances, 
formerly forbidden even in the "red-light" districts, 
is typical. So is much of our periodical reading 
matter and any number of "movie" plays, over the 



edge of the decadently erotic, with a censorship that 
does not censor because of moral and financial doubt. 
A very prominent and conservative university presi- 
dent recently said in public that the present age is 
the most decadent in history, with the exception of 
the days just before the fall of the Roman Republic 
and before the French Revolution. He mentioned 
"dishonesty, permeating public and private life 
alike, tainting the administration of justice, tainting 
our legislative halls, tainting the conduct of private 
business, polluting at times even the church itself.' ' 
In the same utterance he averred that "a source of 
infinite evil in every modern society is impurity of 
word and act." He went on to assert that "if there 
is to be social and political regeneration in our Re- 
public and in the rest of the world, it must be by 
a tremendous regeneration of moral ideals." 

Surely such a regeneration means some settlement 
of the present conflict of moral purposes. It means 
a transition from moral skepticism to a reasonably 
founded moral faith. The social reconstruction of 
the world means its ethical reconstruction. Is the 
problem solvable? Is it too presumptuous to at- 
tempt it? Is there, after all, any absolute distinction 
between right and wrong in personal and social 
affairs? If so, what is it? Whatever symptoms of 
moral distress our age may now evince, it is the 
supreme business of reasonable men to see that, ' ' so 
far as the intellectual life of the world goes, this 
present time is essentially the opening phase of a 



period of ethical reconstruction, a reconstruction of 
which the new republic will possess the matured 
result." 3 

Let us add that happy is the civilization that pos- 
sesses within it great contradictions, — if it can solve 
them. For an age of strenuous contradictions is at 
least not stagnant; it is aggressively alive, and is a 
sure begetter of that travail of thought that makes 
for certain progress. The restless criticism of the 
Sophists was the prelude to the golden age of 
Greece. It was only when the long-secure scholasti- 
cism of the Middle Ages culminated in sharp contra- 
dictions between reason and dogma, between science 
and faith, between the divine order and the human 
order, that there emerged the triumphant beginnings 
of a new era, issuing at last in a new humanism, a 
new transfiguration of the world in the name of 
modern art, modern philosophy, and modern science. 
The contradictions of our own day may mean like- 
wise the silent, pervasive, and certain advance to- 
ward a new moral order. 

■ H. G. Wells, Anticipations, p. 311. 



Skepticism, moral or other, is the result of a cer- 
tain amount of thinking. This is the encouraging 
side of it. It betokens a relatively advanced stage 
of civilization. But skepticism is never the last word 
in thinking. It is only one of the steps in intellectual 
progress, one of the resting places along the high- 
way of truth. Skepticism is the outcome of much 
thought; but it is likely to disappear with more 

The man of to-day has thought just enough to 
see the fallacies in the traditional forms of what 
used to be the great verities. He has not thought 
enough to see that these great verities need not dis- 
appear merely because their ancient reasons are 
faulty. Above all, he has not thought enough to 
adjust these verities to all the new means of proof 
that a complete logic insists upon before a final 
judgment is made. The modern man has thought 
enough to deny great things; he has not thought 
enough to affirm great things. 

The thoughtful man of to-day cannot remain in 
pure negation or doubt. Several years ago there 
was a popular song that ran, "I don't know where 



I'm going, but I'm on my way." Seated at night 
by the inn-fire, foot-weary with futile wanderings 
and made indifferent to fate by the cheering glass, 
one may sing such a song with care-free abandon ; 
but it is no challenge to hearten a valiant soul when 
the sun is up and the mind is clear and a journey lies 
beyond. Then one demands to know where he is 
going, that he may indeed be sure that he is on his 

A true idealist without an ideal will find one. The 
serious citizen of our civilization will not everlast- 
ingly confront a multitude of contending purposes 
with hopeless despair or with supine indifference. 
This very conflict of ideals he will face as a chal- 
lenging problem, glad that the race has come to the 
point where it is so lustily alive as to have such 
courageously battling purposes; resolute, however, 
in his insistence that the conflict shall be solved and 
the crooked ways made straight. That a great 
cataclysm has shaken up world-old institutions will 
not breed in him a hopelessness for the social order ; 
rather will it give to him an increased optimism, 
born of the new consciousness that, after all, social 
traditions are not so stubborn and unchangeable as 
they seemed, but are fully capable of drastic re- 
molding and of infinite progress. 

It is our purpose, then, resolutely to face the pres- 
ent conflict of ideals and to seek some positive solu- 



tion, even though at first none seems obvious. Let 
us be critical and cautious by all means ; but let us 
not sin against logic by a too ready capitulation Xo 
final doubt. If doubt exists as the avowed enemy of 
dogmatism, it is also true that the worst dogmatism 
occurs when doubt itself becomes dogmatic. 

Abjuring any such dogmatism, we discover that 
in our moral skepticism we have been guilty of sev- 
eral logical errors. First of all, in our entire atti- 
tude toward the question of whether there is any 
absolute moral standard, any final moral ideal, we 
have been making an astonishing assumption, which 
has strangely escaped our notice. Let us see what 
this assumption is. Perhaps if we once drag it out 
into the open light, we may be enabled to reach some 
more satisfactory outcome for our age than the skep- 
ticism that not only solves no problems, but allows 
them to fight a wayward battle, and to place capri- 
cious hazards against progress. 

In most popular arguments against the possibility 
of finding an absolute moral standard it is tacitly 
assumed that the conflicting ideals of mankind are 
inconsistent with one another and exclude one 
another. It is taken for granted that we are obliged 
to choose just one of them as true and abandon all 
the remainder as false. If this were really the situa- 
tion, any choice of an ideal would be fatal, for it 
would leave out many others worth while. Better 
skepticism than such moral narrowness. It is but 
common sense to hesitate at the annihilation of all 



but one of the many ideals of life that have been 
gained by the hard-won experience of the race. 
Thus, if a reasonable man were asked to make a 
rigidly single choice, from among custom and con- 
science and pleasure and asceticism and the rest, 
of a final and never-to-be-changed guide to life, he 
would end in pardonable and perpetual doubt. As 
we have seen, this is where reasonable men tend to 
rest to-day ; but it is through a misapprehension of 
what the problem really is. For the entire question 
is put wrongly when it is asked, "Which one of the 
scores of moral standards bequeathed us by history 
is the right one?" The illuminating truth is that 
any workable moral criterion whatever involves 
every one of the rest, as a matter both of logic and 
of practical experience. All conflicting moral ideals 
imply a moral end that includes them all and 
transcends every one of them. And this all-inclusive 
moral end is the true standard of right and wrong 
that ever remains the same amid all moral change. 
The best way to see that any workable moral cri- 
terion involves all the rest is to consider the race's 
experience. Moral standards change with history. 
This is indubitable. But when a new moral evalua- 
tion of life arises, it never means the utter abandon- 
ment of the old standards. Moral change occurs 
not because the old moral ideas were worthless, but 
because they were merely a part of the whole truth, 
however necessary a part. What in history seems a 
panorama of successive views of life supplanting 



one another is in reality a progress, a growth, so 
that what was grows into what is, as the bud grows 
into the blossom. The blossom does not supplant 
the bud ; it is the bud come to its fullness. The his- 
toric shifting of moral ideals, so productive of 
skepticism, is in reality only reasonable moral ex- 
pansion. Through the centuries each moral ideal 
annuls not all the rest, but gives genesis to all the 
rest, one by one, to complete it. Ours is an age of 
moral conflict just because of this fact; each ideal 
does not discourage, but stimulates into life the host 
of its fellows. The conflict becomes baffling only 
because men will not see that these ideals are not 
merely contending with one another, but are strenu- 
ously calling out for one another, pleading not to be 
singled out, but to be reconciled and harmonized 
with one another. 

While the puzzling succession of moral standards 
in history is to be interpreted as really progress 
toward a larger and larger inclusiveness that finally 
embraces all of them, it is not progress in a straight 
line. There are many curves and retrogressions in 
it. This is why the progress is so difficult to discern 
at a first glance. But the progress is there, and 
the truth that each conception of life implies all the 
rest to complete it is fully attested over and over 
again, not only by the historical vicissitudes of rival 
theories, but by the concrete events that make and 
unmake civilizations. And now, since this is the 
introductory truth necessary for any ethical recon- 



struction of our age, let us be sure of it by looking 
for a moment at the moral fortunes of the past. 
These fortunes rehearse the progress of every man 
in his search for the standard of righteousness. 


Custom is one of the initial ways by which men 
determine what is right. Gradually they formu- 
late the more imperative edicts of custom into 
popular precepts and proverbs, which become much 
more helpful than unwritten custom alone. But note 
that such precepts and proverbs do not by any means 
supplant custom; they are custom, now made into 
sayings that people can repeat to each other. 

But the evolution does not stop just here. There 
are so many precepts concerning all sorts of sub- 
jects! Some are not so important as others; some 
are repetitions of others in a different form; some 
actually conflict with others. The next step in the 
search for a moral guide is to reduce these many 
precepts about right and wrong to a relatively short 
list of fundamental rules, with some pretense to a 
coherence and completeness such as a loose multi- 
tude of sayings never possesses. The Ten Com- 
mandments give us a conspicuous example of a list 
of this kind. So also does the list of the four salient 
virtues approved by the Greeks, — Wisdom, Courage, 
Temperance, and Justice. But again, these more 
systematic guides to living do not really defy or 



supplant the best traditions of custom or the pre- 
cepts of the fathers. Eather are they the best of 
these same customs and precepts, put into more defi- 
nite form, so that they may be more practically 

Custom, then precept, then systematized codes, — 
three apparently different moral standards; yet, 
actually, they do not conflict with one another. 
Each, properly seen, is an interpretation of and a 
supplementing strength to the other two. 

It soon appears, however, that neither the race 
nor the individual can rest even in such a list of 
rules, no matter how excellent, as an adequate way 
to distinguish between right and wrong and, to meet 
all life's moral perplexities. A set of command- 
ments is ever of value, but it is not enough. The 
founder of Christianity, for instance, did not con- 
ceive a list of rules to be a sufficient guide for life, 
else his own ethical message would have been super- 
fluous. He supplemented the Decalogue by a new 
commandment, which utterly transfigures it. For 
a mere set of commandments is much too simple for 
life's infinite variety. To try to apply it as a suf- 
ficient solution of the endless moral problems that 
confront the earnest soul is, in phrases of Walt 
Whitman, like sweeping one's orbit with a carpen- 
ter's compass, or like measuring the infinite with a 

A great deal of the moral skepticism of our own 
day is an encouraging recognition cf this very fact. 



To many people it seems to mean, further, that 
there can be no such thing as an absolute standard 
of morals. But this is not what it needs to mean. 
All that it really signifies is that one cannot rely 
upon sets of moral rules taken just by themselves. 

What else is needed? 

It is noteworthy that a set of rules for moral con- 
duct never explicitly gives a vision of what the goal 
of all moral conduct is, of what is the true end of 
society and of the individual; and yet it certainly 
implies such a vision. Thus, when Plato reflects 
upon the Grecian code # of Wisdom, Courage, Tem- 
perance, and Justice, he discovers that to make these 
virtues reasonable they must be related to an ideal 
toward which they are the means, — the ideal Grecian 
man and the ideal Grecian state, so eloquently por- 
trayed in the Republic. So, I doubt not that if one 
would understand the Ten Commandments of the 
Hebrews and would make them efficient, one must 
have in one 's mind the picture of the ideal Hebrew, 
doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly be- 
fore his God; for whose moral progress the com- 
mandments were essential guideposts on his way. 
Essential, but not sufficient. Eightly to interpret 
them, yea, to have the courage to pursue the long, 
hard journey, the traveler must have a glimpse of 
the end he seeks through them. 

Thus, every significant set of moral rules involves 
an end to be attained by them ; and if we could know 
this end in the case of any such set of moral com- 



mands, they would at once become convincing in 
terms of the vision out of which they arose in the 
first place. In the light of this same vision their 
meaning wonld be defined, their contradictions 
solved, and their incompleteness continually recti- 
fied. Further, this end would become the true cri- 
terion of moral conduct, better capable of adapting 
itself successfully to the infinite variety of experi- 
ence. For if one knows the goal of all his striving, 
the problem of what to do in a given situation is 
reduced to determining whether this act or that will 
lead to this goal. It may be difficult enough to decide 
even then; but the wisdom required is an ever- 
growing wisdom and need not involve one in hope- 
less contradictions. Now, finding this end does not 
do away with sets of rules ; it only makes them rea- 
sonable, possible of interpretation, and for the first 
time truly serviceable. Again, we have no super- 
seding of one standard by another, but moral 
growth; no conflict that need bring skepticism, but 
moral development that strengthens moral confi- 

It appears, then, that the search for the true moral 
standard is really a search for the chief end of man 
and of his social institutions. It is here that we 
meet with the sort of moral conflict and skepticism 
that especially characterize our times. There are 
so many possible ends! We have mentioned some 
of them. There are those who hold that the end of 
life is the pleasure of the individual ; those who hold 



that it is the happiness of the greatest number; 
those who insist that it is in cultivating rational 
thought that a man comes to his complete perfection ; 
those who are sure that it is the glorification of 
the will that we seek ; those who erect an end of self- 
abnegation and self -annulment, with the one affirma- 
tive hope of being lost in God ; and those who divine 
that the dream of life should be Beauty. And there 
are others. How shall we determine amid this maze 
of dreams which ideal is the right one? 

Well, we have made the assertion that all these 
conflicting ideals imply one another. They do. 
Their logic insists upon it and history confirms it. 
See if this is not so. In the previous chapter we 
have already stressed two conspicuous contradic- 
tions in current life; that between hedonism and 
self-sacrifice on the one hand, and that between 
society and the individual on the other. It is well to 
revert to them now and to show how temporary and 
shallow these contradictions really are when viewed 
in the light of an all-inclusive moral end. 


First, the contradiction between the life of pleas- 
ure and the life of sacrifice. There is always the 
Puritan and the Pagan, and to conciliate them is 
no easy problem. Yet conciliate them we must, and 
this side the grave, or human nature is hopelessly 
at war with itself. To conciliate them as does 



Romero in the light opera, The Serenade, by grati- 
fying the flesh one day and by mortifying it the next, 
is precisely the absurdity that the spectators of light 
opera know it to be. Hedonism and sacrifice will 
always war with one another so long as a narrow 
and insufficient view of either is assumed as a work- 
ing basis of life. And this narrow view is the one 
that has ever been assumed wherever the conflict has 

Thus, the spirit of asceticism in its narrower 
guise has tried to banish all pleasure from the world 
and has strangely supposed that there is actual merit 
in sacrifice for its own sake. The fact that renounce- 
ment and sacrifice are characteristic of all religions 
has helped most to make current this conception. 
Thus, it has been an approved custom to murder the 
beauty of this world by making duty seem as unat- 
tractive as possible. Merit is supposed to accrue 
from doing what one does not want to do, just be- 
cause one does not want to do it; to be happy is 
probably to be sinful. Macaulay records that to the 
Puritans "it was a sin to hang garlands on a May- 
pole, to drink a friend's health, to fly a hawk, to 
hunt a stag, to play at chess, to wear lovelocks, to 
put starch into a ruff, to touch the virginals, to read 
The Faerie Queene." 

Likewise, pleasure has been sought as though it 
were really something one values just because it is 
pleasant, not because it is pleasure in achievements 
worth while. Yet, ever standing above mere pleas- 



lire is a moral judgment, which assures us that no 
matter how pleasant, some pleasures are relatively 
worthless ; that our prime pursuit is not pleasure at 
all, hut ideals which, nevertheless, yield the pleasure 
worthy of a human being, the only pleasure that 
abides. Indeed, seek pleasure as if it were the only 
ideal in life and you never achieve it ; it eludes you. 
The saddest and most jaded being on this earth is 
the professional pleasure-seeker. The life of pleas- 
ure, as in the case of Faust, comes upon its own 
tragic self -defeat. Everybody knows that the psy- 
chology of pleasure begets a "hedonistic paradox"; 
"to get pleasure, one must forget it." And to get 
it, one must forget it in terms of the adoption of 
an ideal of self-realization which does no violence 
to any region of self-development. A life of 
pleasure-seeking is anomalous and, in its degenera- 
tion into selfishness and aimlessness and finally 
boredom, it is on its logical way to one of two things, 
the destruction of the seeker, or the abandonment 
of the search. Thus it is that, historically, hedonistic 
theories have always developed out of themselves 
into more adequate views of life, and this according 
to the measure of their self-consciousness. And 
hedonistic civilizations have either been destroyed 
or have grown into civilizations of a larger creed. 

Life is a struggle for a moral goal whose every 
achievement gives pleasure, and yet whose every 
step means something, too, of the positive pain of 
sacrifice. The heaven of true pleasure is worth 



suffering" for, worth even dying for under the excep- 
tional circumstances that life sometimes affords. 
Martyrdom for its own sake were foolish ; but mar- 
tyrdom for the sake of something better than 
martyrdom is ever heroic. Indeed, one may well 
suspect himself if his ideals are not such as to cause 
constant sacrifice ; for the fight for the moral order 
means heroic choices, and so abnegation ; it is verily 
a fight that brings its glorious wounds. The lives 
of all we laud as great are filled with renouncements. 
The meaning of both pleasure and sacrifice emerge 
only from and are conciliated in the adequate under- 
standing of the moral struggle for the ideal. "We 
then come upon a life which is neither traditional 
pleasure-seeking nor traditional asceticism; a life in 
harmony with heroic renouncement and interpretive 
of its significance. Each without the other con- 
tradicts not only the other, but itself. The contra- 
diction is at last solved and each side of the 
contradiction measurelessly enriched. Our nature 
is not divided against itself, nor is our civilization. 
If the Pagan and the Puritan are not happy with 
each other, they are still more unhappy without each 
other. In terms of the Joyous Sacrifice it is that 
they are redefined within us and given not only one 
body, but one soul. The Pagan gives the Puritan 
the art treasures of the world; the love of nature; 
music; joy of living; health of body and mind. The 
Puritan gives the Pagan the moral inspiration; the 
far ideal. The Puritan is the thorny stem, the Pagan 



the rose and the perfume of the rose. The Puritan 
is the solemn forest, the Pagan the birds of song 
and the sunshine through the trees. Standing reso- 
lutely for this new and rational fullness of life, the 
moral order is no longer joyless, nor is its heaven 
a heaven of such soft bliss as heroes spurn. It solves 
the warfare between hedonism and asceticism and 
merges them in a new faith in a life where each finds 
its transfigured place. 


So with the acute contradiction now current be- 
tween those who hold that the moral goal has to do 
ultimately with the individual and those who hold 
that it has to do rather with society. It is solved 
by recognizing that, as in the case of hedonism and 
sacrifice, each involves the other in a larger ideal 
than either is by itself. There will be no solution 
of this current conflict so long as we suppose society 
to be one thing and the individual quite another. 
Once one separates these two, one never can get 
them together again. The individual is nothing by 
himself, and society is nothing by itself. The goal 
of human progress is not society in the abstract at 
the expense of the individual, for such an abstrac- 
tion simply does not exist, save as an abstraction. 
A society that annuls the individuals that make it 
possible annuls itself, as history well attests. Nor 
is the goal of progress the self-realization of each 



individual at the expense of and abstracted from 
society; for neither does there exist such an ab- 
stracted individual. A rational moral order an- 
nounces that the end of human endeavor is neither 
the individual nor society, for the simple reason that 
it is both. It means the realization of the individual 
through society and of society through the indi- 
vidual ; the welfare of neither can be sundered from 
that of the other. Such a moral order proclaims 
that personality is first of all a social conception. 
And since men are inalienably social, their social 
rights are not artificial, but are themselves inalien- 
able, as are their social obligations. Where do I 
end? With my own consciousness, apart from the 
being of others 1 But this is a psychological absurd- 
ity. For my consciousness of myself is my con- 
sciousness of a self in terms of others; take away 
from me my relatives, my friends, my community, 
my state, my nation, with all that these mean, and 
what sort of self have I left? My consciousness is 
social. But, objects some one, while it is true that 
I am social, I care for society only as it brings me 
returns; so that I am only a selfish individualist 
after all, and I may as well acknowledge it. When 
I give aid to the mendicant, I do it not because I 
have any primary social impulse, but because it 
gives me a selfish thrill of satisfaction. I rejoin, 
if you have no direct interest in your mendicant for 
his own sake, why do you find any pleasure in help- 
ing him? If you had no such direct interest, it 



would never give you pleasure to see him benefited. 
If you are selfish, it is in the sense of having a natu- 
ral and direct regard for a larger self that includes 
your fellow men, as well as that regard for the 
narrower, abstracted self of the individualist, 
which, when exclusive, is the common meaning of 
selfishness in the opprobrious sense. 

Thus, rightly seen, the individual is an expression 
of the social whole, and the social whole is part of 
the ideal of each individual. For the individual is 
what he is only as inclusive of all, in his aim, in his 
life. And every other individual is equally inclu- 
sive. Society is an interinclusion of individuals, 
each of whom reflects society's total reality in him- 
self. The moral law is as Kipling's Law of the 
Jungle : 

As the Creeper that circles the tree-trunk, so the law run- 
neth forward and back ; 

For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength 
of the Wolf is the Pack. 

The ''self-dependence" of Matthew Arnold's famous 
poem of that title, if taken literally, contradicts 
every moral instinct. Such a self-dependence is 
downright, unreflecting, and self-refuting selfish- 
ness. Those aware of the true nature of the moral 
ideal cannot desire to be, like the stars, 

Bounded by themselves, and unobservant 
In what state God's other works may be. 

True, we of the Occident have always boasted of our 



independence. It has been the slogan of democracy. 
But whatever this independence may have meant 
once, we now know well enough that it cannot mean 
the self-sufficiency of the individual or group. Only 
recently have the masses of men become highly 
aware of their dependence upon the social system 
for all that makes their lives worth while. What was 
a fact before the World War has now become con- 
scious ; namely, that the fortunes of the world have 
become so unified that what happens in Cathay is 
no longer a matter of indifference to Europe, — not 
even to America ; and that one can no longer choose 
between the cycles of the former and the years of 
the latter. The commercial interests of the earth 
are bound together in a bewildering nexus of rela- 
tions, and the division of labor has made the indi- 
vidual's right to life merely a right to ask it from 
his fellows, and the right to insure it by proving his 
indispensability to them. Our dearest pleasures are 
socialized; they depend upon social expedients of 
clubs and the theaters and art galleries and organ- 
ized sports. The intellectual worker no longer 
immures himself from the world in his upper cham- 
ber. The scientist of America cooperates with his 
colleague of the Continent ; and nearly every mod- 
ern scientific achievement is a joint product. The 
individual shuts the door to the best means of 
modern culture the moment he denies the social 
institution of education; and his religious aspira- 
tions, much more his religious deeds, call for the 



stimulation and confirmation of other seekers after 
the power that makes for righteousness. The inde- 
pendence of the prophet in the wilderness was heroic 
once ; but it is an anachronism now, and is no longer 
even heroic. 

Although the growing consciousness of this social 
dependence accentuates the individual's feeling of 
helplessness and often aggravates his social rebel- 
lion, all the more modern struggles for independ- 
ence, so far as they have succeeded, have been 
struggles of the individual not to free himself from 
men, but to get his rational desires in terms of a 
vital relation to the sort of society that will guaran- 
tee them to each and all. Thus, increased individual 
liberty, paradoxically enough, means increased 
social control. Lately, our own government has 
assumed social controls unthinkable in the earlier 
stages of democracy, when they would have been 
thought of as seriously and fatally interfering with 
individual rights. For the sake of himself, the indi- 
vidual has initiated more and more social con- 
straints ; and the functions of government have been 
incredibly enlarged, including regulations for the 
public health, the establishment of employment 
bureaus, community service, and, in general, a new 
ideal of centralized and specialized leadership. This 
social control came into its own during the World 
"War; but it is not merely a temporary matter. It is 
the beginning of a new expression of the conciliation 
of individual rights and social obligations. 



It is this idea of the human self as fundamentally 
social by nature, together with a deeper study of 
the practical implications of it in the remolding 
of human institutions, that will bring civilization 
forward to its next stage. In the new Social Indi- 
vidual, fully conscious of his significance, the con- 
tradiction between the individual and society is 
solved, and each side of the contradiction is infinitely 
enriched. The "great" men and women are to be 
such Social Individuals. They will violate the social 
order never, even for " conscience's sake," any more 
than Socrates, with the integrity of the state at 
heart, would break the law in order to escape from 
his prison. Their function it is to ask, as did Soc- 
rates, better things, larger things of society than 
can yet be granted, in order that the individual of 
the future, through a larger social chance, may grow 
to the stature of this same greatness. The most 
far-reaching good that higher education can do for 
our society is to produce such men and women; 
men and women who are committed heart and soul 
to the social task of democracy, and who will dare 
to become the practical prophets of its progress, 
the veritable eyes and hands of its hope. 

But suppose that these illustrative contradictions 
between pleasure and sacrifice, between society and 
the individual, are solved. Even then our problem 



is only incompletely met. For pleasure, even if it be 
thoroughly socialized and gained by whatever sacri- 
fice and toil, is not the whole of life. For we live 
not only a life of feeling, but a life of reason. The 
Rationalist has his rights, founded just as surely in 
the aspirations of human nature. But what of that? 
It is not illogical, is it, to find reason as well as 
pleasure in life? Why call them conflicting ideals? 
One may have both. Indeed, one must have both to 
have either. Irrational pleasure brings pain, and 
rationality that leads to permanent unhappiness is 
immediately subject to suspicion. There is no real 

Likewise, we not only reason and feel, but we act; 
we live in a realm of desires and deeds, summed in 
what we call "will." And the will can have its 
rights without excluding reason and feeling. In- 
deed, it must be a rational will to be effective ; and 
so must it be a pleasurable will, or it will not act at 
all. And the dream of Beauty can be easily har- 
monized with these other dreams of the spirit ; every 
ideal calls for life in its beauty as well as for life 
in its happiness and life in its truth. Nor need 
conscience lose its value even though it is never 
enough, taken alone. Conscience itself must ever be 
educated by all these idealistic factors that make 
for completeness. Never are its mandates infallible. 
Always are they helpfully suggestive, and often, in 
moral crises, if trained to sound judgment, they rise 
to the emergency with quick and accurate decision. 



These are merely hints of what it would require 
many pages to develop fully. But enough has been 
said to suggest that what appears to be a hopeless 
conflict of moral ideals is not so hopeless as it seems 
and that, with their conciliation, moral skepticism 
is insufficiently founded. But now the great and 
final question remains. If no one of these ideals, 
taken by itself, is the correct one, just what is that 
moral end which, as we have alleged, includes them 
all and transcends every one of them? What is that 
all-embracing moral goal which is the true standard 
and which ever remains the same amid all moral 
change f 

For the answer to this question, let us look within 
ourselves. Let us begin with common, everyday 
things that we all desire and are willing to struggle 
for. Food is one of the most common of these ob- 
jects of desire. Why do I seek it as a momentary 
goal of my efforts? Certainly, the reason is not a 
capricious one ; the desire for food is founded upon 
my fundamental human needs. I desire also pure 
air to breathe. Neither is this desire capricious; 
it, too, is an expression of my needs as a human 
being with just this human constitution and its de- 
mands for the conditions of its existence. Both 
food and air are among the fundamental desires of 
the bodily life. There are many other such desires, 
and they all must be satisfied if life is to continue 
in the fullness of its possibilities. 

Food and air are humble enough ideals j they are 



not the ultimate ends of our existence. And yet 
what is true of them is true of all our ideals, even 
those supreme ideals that we dignify by the name of 
moral. Such ideals too, in so far as they are per- 
sistent, are born of our fundamental human desires 
which, in turn, are expressions of our fundamental 
needs and capacities. "The impulse which stirs the 
inmost depth of heart is the Real of us seeking ex- 
pression." Our ideals are our needs objectified. 
As in the case of the body, so with the mind or 
spirit; there are many such desires and, therefore, 
many purposes and ideals. And again, as in the 
case of the body, if we choose the satisfaction of 
only one of these desires or of a group of them, 
the other suppressed desires are forever forcing 
themselves upon our attention. Suppose one's body 
should say, "I want food to eat and I also want air 
to breathe ; I will choose the food and suppress the 
desire for air." The result of such physiological 
idiocy would be death. The result of such moral 
folly among the ideals of the spirit is death also, — 
moral death, or a stultified narrowing of moral life. 
Fortunately such moral narrowness is never per- 
manently satisfactory to any of us. For the one 
fundamental desire of every human being is that 
every one of the persistent desires of the spirit be 
fulfilled, so far as this is possible. So the really 
fundamental ideal of every human being — that 
which he ever unconsciously seeks — is that large and 
complete ideal which will conciliate the greatest 



number of such ideals as are only partial expres- 
sions of his spirit's needs. It is hard to give a name 
not misleading to this all-inclusive end of human 
search. The naming of it is not the main thing. 
It might be called Total Self-realization. But what- 
ever it is called, it will include all the conflicting 
moral ideals that we have so far passed in review. 
The supreme office of reason is to harmonize and 
adjust them. 

But some one may object, why pay any attention 
to our desires at all, as if they had a right to dictate 
what our moral concerns shall be f Has it not been 
one of the high traditions of the moral life that often 
one must act not in accordance with one's desires, 
but in a noble defiance of them? Is not our duty 
most frequently the performance of precisely what 
we do not desire to do? 

The wholly adequate answer is that we simply 
must pay moral attention to our fundamental de- 
sires, not only because they are the expressions of 
our permanent needs, but because we cannot rid 
ourselves of them even if we would. This is the 
basic fact of our human consciousness. Indeed, one 
would not find it difficult to argue that the entire 
evolution of mind proceeds through the persistent 
urge of its inalienable desires. One cannot rid him- 
self of such desires ; nor can he successfully enslave 
them, as some moralists have tried to do. Why, 
we cannot even fight our desires unless we first 
have a desire to do so ! We cannot seek an end that 



some desire does not dictate, even if it is the desire 
to have no desires at all. True, duty often appears 
to be the doing of what we do not desire to do ; but 
this is only because the desire to do our duty is in 
conflict with other desires that momentarily fight 
back. No human being would have the least power 
to do his duty if he actually did not desire to do 
it, all things considered ; if, indeed, he did not desire 
it so strongly as to overcome all desires to the 
contrary ! 

No, our human nature will not rest in any moral 
purpose that is not large enough to give some hope 
to every one of our human needs. A total self de- 
mands nothing less than total self-realization. 
Sensible moral discipline is not the annulling of 
any of our really fundamental wants, but the 
subordinating of them to their rightful place in the 
moral economy. 


The objection may be raised that such a moral 
goal is so far but vaguely defined. But suppose the 
truth happens to be that the ideal self and the ideal 
society that we seek simply cannot be defined in 
its fullness? That it can be drawn only in bold 
outlines ? Suppose that the most illuminating moral 
truth of all is that a serious aspect of our growth 
toward the ideal is the ever-increasing knowledge 
of the ideal itself? This is, indeed, the fact. Our 



moral deeds toward the goal of progress include the 
slow achievement of increasingly definite thoughts 
concerning it. If our knowledge is at no time com- 
plete, still, as Locke once put it, the light of our 
candle is enough for the next step ; and the next step 
carries our candle forward, making possible still 
further vision. Such partial definiteness as we pos- 
sess at any given stage of the journey presents no 
warrant for moral skepticism, hut only for moral 
caution. The ultimate thing is certain enough. The 
all-embracing end of moral struggle is no mere 
guess. Its application as a moral criterion is not 
easy; but the moral struggle has never been and 
never will be easy. This is why one of the indis- 
pensable moral virtues is courage. 

Furthermore, the difficulty about the vagueness 
of moral ideals is more theoretical than practical. 
For if each of our fundamental ideals really implies 
all the rest, one may seek any one of them loyally 
and rationally and be assured that he will find 
himself gradually embracing them all in his growth. 
Which one any given person shall lay emphasis upon 
at first depends largely upon his temperament and 
his stage of advancement. Some had better start 
with the search for happiness ; some with the search • 
for beauty ; there is a place in every developing life 
where these roads converge in the broad highway 
that leads not to destruction. But in the nature of 
the case, some of our partial ideals guarantee the 
complete goal more directly and certainly than do 



others. For instance, the standard of custom is low 
in the scale ; any reflective standard is higher, since 
the central problem of moral progress happens to 
be the careful and reflective adjustment of our 
desires rather than the blind gropings of unreflective 

The large moral ideal that I have been suggesting 
as the solution of the present conflict of ideals is in 
keeping with the spirit of the age, in spite of its 
moral doubt. It is in harmony with the current 
praise of the Bounded Man. It reflects the modern 
emphasis upon the abundant life which Spencer, 
stimulated by a vision of an ever-widening evolu- 
tion, characterizes as life's " breadth," and which 
Tennyson celebrates when he exclaims, 

'Tis life, whereof our nerves are scant, 
Oh life, not death, for which we pant; 
More life, and fuller, that I want. 

This ideal gives a new meaning to our faith in the 
triumph of righteousness, since, with it, all history 
can be readily conceived as contributing to a goal 
so all-embracing that it can find ultimate use for 
every valiant search of men and civilizations, even 
though they were unaware of the fuller vision their 
heroism created for those who came after. 

The reasons for the permanence of moral skep- 
ticism have been shown to be faulty. The true ideal 
that conciliates all ideals has been suggested. But 
one must do more than this to establish a moral 



confidence in it that will solve the great problems 
of our day, and solve them abidingly. This moral 
confidence our age lacks and needs. If we had it, 
progress would be more secure and ethical recon- 
struction more certain. If we had it, even if we 
chose a merely partial ideal, we would at least fol- 
low it seriously, so that it would expand of itself 
out of its relative poverty into the fullness of life. 
But the trouble with our age is not so much that 
it has a wrong moral ideal, as that men have no 
absolute confidence in any moral ideal at all! 

Now, the conditions of such a moral confidence 
are not simple. They cannot be created by mere 
sentimental exhortations. The leaders of men must 
know what these conditions are, and that speedily, 
if our greater problems are to be solved. To under- 
stand them will be to clarify still further the way 
of life to which we have just been led by logic and 
by history. 



Most of the individuals we acclaim as great and 
most outstanding civilizations have been character- 
ized by what we may call moral confidence. The 
golden age of Greece built its glory with it; the 
Reformation was on fire with it ; the French Revolu- 
tion valiantly transformed a social order by it; the 
American people created a new democracy upon it. 
It has been the one common attribute of vastly 
diverse personalities, separated by time and differ- 
ing widely in genius, such as Socrates, Dante, 
Jeanne d'Arc, Lincoln, Foch. It is the fundamental 
virtue of contemporary men of action who rise sig- 
nificantly above their fellows. This moral confidence 
is a confidence that there is a veritable distinction 
between what is right and what is wrong, that one 
knows what this distinction is, and that by no pos- 
sible accident may one's fealty to the right be ulti- 
mately betrayed by failure or by disproof. Such 
moral confidence begets sacrifice, even to much 
suffering. Such men as possess it have causes which 
they are not only willing to live for, but to die for. 
There can be no greater confidence than this. 

It is perfectly true that the moral confidence of 



this or that man may be mistaken. That is not the 
point. I am not now referring to any given man's 
faith in his particular moral creed and evaluating 
just that. I am speaking of moral confidence in 
the broad sense of unswerving loyalty to some moral 
ideal or other, whether or not it be the ideal finally 
justified by all men. Moral confidence may or may 
not be misplaced; but moral confidence in something 
is absolutely essential to any man and to any civil- 
ization, if persistently courageous deeds are to be 

The indispensable conditions of moral confidence 
are surprisingly analogous to the conditions of 
political confidence, or of business confidence. The 
political confidence of citizens rests upon certain 
convictions, — convictions concerning the fundamen- 
tal nature and tendencies of their state. Business 
confidence, too, depends upon certain underlying 
convictions or beliefs ; as, for instance, beliefs in the 
honesty and credit of one's business associates, the 
stability of economic institutions, the state of the 
market, and the conditions of supply and demand. 
Just so, moral confidence is not a gratuitous thing; 
it, too, rests upon certain beliefs, — beliefs about the ' 
nature of the life and experience in which our moral 
deeds are cast. Just as in business, so in morals, 
we may not be fully conscious of these underlying 
beliefs; but we have them if ours is a significant 
moral faith. 

The easiest way to see the importance of certain 



beliefs, concerning which we think little and yet 
which are ever with us, is to imagine them suddenly 
absent, or to imagine ourselves believing something 
exactly contradictory to them. Suppose, for in- 
stance, that we were convinced that life is of such 
a nature that what we call wrong will certainly 
triumph in the long run. Suppose that we really 
believed that all efforts on our part to prevent this 
catastrophe were futile, all our serious strivings 
for righteousness subject to sure defeat, all our sac- 
rifices for it utterly in vain. If we were surely con- 
vinced of this, how many of us would continue the 
moral struggle? How many of us would die for a 
cause for which there is no hope of victory? We 
are not very fond of doing useless deeds, especially 
if they involve effort and suffering. And moral 
struggle ever involves just these things. If moral 
hope were once thoroughly and finally believed to 
be "a phantom spirit, throwing up wild hands," all 
moral confidence would be forever dead. 

The first condition of moral confidence, then, is 
the conviction that the universe is, at bottom, a 
moral order ; that is, an order in which righteousness 
will certainly triumph, or at any rate has a chance 
to triumph. Yet, this faith is not certainly proved 
by our ordinary observations of the mere facts of 
life as we know it. Sometimes it seems just the 
other way; "right forever on the scaffold, wrong 
forever on the throne." The question whether the 
world is growing better is an endless question, 



always with inconclusive evidence so far as the mere 
facts are concerned, which will appeal as convinc- 
ing according to one's temperament and experience. 
One cannot base great moral confidence upon the 
few passing events of life that we now see, any- 
more than could the afflicted Job. Such confidence 
must reach down to the belief that, whatever appear- 
ances may be, the very nature of our universe is such 
that it makes the triumph of righteousness in it a 
natural thing. 

Such a universe is different from any other kind 
of universe, and involves a very definite structure ; 
although few are likely to reflect thoroughly upon 
just what it does involve. To say that the universe 
is a moral order is to say so many other things! 
It is to say that its manifold changes are not only 
according to law, but that this law is moral, what- 
ever else it is besides. For instance, it is to imply 
that evolution is not only a change from certain 
types of organism to certain other types, as from 
structure and function relatively simple to those 
relatively complex, but that it is really, in the long 
run, a development from worse life to better life; 
that, in the long run, the survival of the fittest means 
also the survival of the best, although science may 
not legitimately commit itself to such a statement, 
while never denying it. To have confidence that the 
universe is of such a nature that righteousness will 
triumph is to know that it has a goal of a very 
definite sort, even though it forever recedes in the 



distance, and that this goal cannot be conceived as 
imperfect or defective. If it were defective, of 
course it would not be wholly good ; and yet we are 
to believe in the utter triumph of the good if our 
moral confidence is to be sure ; and it must be sure. 
To say that a moral goal is defective is another way 
of saying that it must be supplanted by a better one. 
The moral ideal can never be thought of as short 
of perfection. Even though no finite individuals or 
societies may ever actually attain it, it is the "far- 
off divine event" toward which they struggle, and 
which becomes the ultimate standard of their prog- 
ress. This absolute goal, this perfect self of men 
and societies is sometimes, and in many guises, in- 
cluded in the idea of God. 

So, also, confidence in the moral order is likely 
to imply an interpretation of death that deprives it 
of its power to defeat the continuous attainment of 
the individual, that is, if it be an endless goal toward 
which the moral mandate urges him. This inter- 
pretation of death becomes a confidence in immor- 

Further, belief in the moral order means that one 
has the chance to choose the right rather than the 
wrong; that in some sense or other one is respon- 
sible for his choice, that one is not " fated," but 
free, a master of his own fate. 

This is why in all ages confidence in the moral 
order has carried with it some beliefs favorable 
or unfavorable, but nevertheless decisive, concern- 



ing God, Immortality, and Freedom. Whatever the 
verities in which moral confidence was based, when 
faith in them declined, moral confidence declined. 
It is the custom to call faith concerning these mat- 
ters "religion," especially if they are affirmative, 
although they are subjects of purely rational re- 
search as well. At any rate, in so far as religion 
gives men a belief in a moral order of some sort, 
and a faith in the verities necessary for a moral 
order, religion is a help to morals. 

And here we come to an all-important fact. In 
examining our age we find it to be not only an age 
of moral skepticism, but of religious skepticism as 
well. Now, as moral and religious confidence are 
necessary to one another, so do moral and religious 
doubt reenforce one another, so that our age turns 
out to be not only an age of moral skepticism, but 
an age in which the indispensable religious condi- 
tions of such a moral confidence as would displace 
doubt do not surely exist! 

The greatest truth for any ethical reconstruction 
at this time is this : Since moral confidence cannot 
be restored without a confidence in whatever verities 
make it possible, we need a new grounding of these 
verities that will appeal to the critical intelligence 
of our own day. Uncritical revelation, false or 
true, will no longer suffice. We might go straight- 
way to religion, but religion is just now in grievous 
need of this same confidence, although the World 
War wondrously revived a longing for its truths. 



So now, surely, is the crucial time for a new and 
rational discussion of what are to be our funda- 
mental beliefs so far as they are necessary for moral 
faith, and especially as they are affected by science, 
the great intellectual enterprise of our time that 
seems to put most stumbling-blocks in our way. 

But since such a discussion will inevitably remain 
so intimately related to what we term religion, it is 
advisable first to attempt a better view of what re- 
ligion is, scrutinized logically and related to two 
other immemorial ways in which men have sought 
for truth. 



Moral confidence implies a world-view, a convic- 
tion concerning what life is in its reality, contrasted 
with what it appears to be; some interpretation of 
what the world is, not in its fragments, but in its 
wholeness. Now, all advanced civilizations have 
offered men three different ways to a world-view. 
The way of the Philosopher is one; the way of the 
Poet is another; and the way of the Prophet is a 
third, — and by this last I mean the way of religion. 
I have already spoken of this as the most common 
way, but now I wish to define it further ; and I know 
not how to do it better than to compare the way of 
the Prophet of religious verities with that of his 
fellow seekers after the reality of things, the Phi- 
losopher on the one hand, and the Poet on the other. 

That poetry, philosophy, and religion possess 
some fundamentally common interests is suggested 
by their close interrelation in every age when they 
have flourished at all. Ever does the great Poet 
tend to become also the Philosopher, with a distinct 
philosophic view of things as the major motive of 
his singing. There was Dante, in whom is found one 
of the richest expressions of the philosophy of the 



medieval era. There was Goethe, whose poetry is at 
the last a bold view of life, one aspect of which finds 
glorification in the tragedy and triumph of the spirit 
of Faust. For us of the English tradition, there is 
Shakespeare, with a quite definite notion of a moral 
order, which becomes a key to comic climax and to 
tragic doom. There is Wordsworth, with his love of 
nature transfigured in the name of God, Plato, and 
sundry theologians. There is Tennyson, whose re- 
flective poetry, most conspicuously In Memoriam, is 
the philosophic defiance of an age that finds its dear- 
est faiths assailed successfully by the pitiless onward 
march of science. There is Browning, through whose 
kaleidoscope of dramatic patterns is to be seen a 
pattern common to all, a pattern of a universe in 
which the problem of evil is solved at last ; a pattern 
detailed in myriad ways, from Rabbi Ben Ezra to 
Abt Vogler; from Pippa Passes to Prospice. 

Just as the great Poet tends to be also a Philoso- 
pher, so does the great Philosopher tend to be a 
Poet. There was Parmenides, whose changeless One 
found lips to sing his world-view in a poem, On Na- 
ture. There was Lucretius, who longed for that 

Passionless bride, divine Tranquillity, 
Yearn 'd after by the wisest of the wise. 

Whose Epicureanism spoke rhythmically for both 
Poet and Philosopher evermore. Above all, there 
was Plato, with no rhymes, indeed, and none of the 
rigid conventions of the Poet's craft, who, neverthe- 



less, is one of the greatest poets of the spirit that 
ever spun the texture of ultimate dreams. 

And, further, both philosophic vision and poetic 
song tend to merge with religion, which ever yearns 
to express its highest moods in poetry; and which 
is also so closely related to philosophy that it is often 
hard to say where religion ends and philosophy be- 
gins. Are the musings of the Oriental sages in the 
Zend- A vestas, the Vedas, and the Upanishads philos- 
ophy, or are they religion? A mystic like Meister 
Eckhart, — is he Philosopher or is he Prophet? Or, 
read America's greatest Philosopher, Royce; when 
with him you have found the Absolute, who surfers 
with us, atones with us, and in whose eternal com- 
pleteness our fragmentary selves triumph, have you 
found mere philosophic conviction, or is it not also 
an illuminated faith which partakes of the devotion 
of religion? The aspiration of the Philosopher and 
the prayer of the Prophet, — do they not touch wings? 

The Philosopher, the Poet, and the Prophet! 
They are spiritually so akin that it is difficult to 
speak the message of one of them greatly without 
voicing the message of the other two. "Why? Be- 
cause, in a measure, all three have the same aim, — 
the discovery of the world as it really is, as com- 
pared with what it appears to be ; the search for that 
very reality that we said any moral confidence in- 
volves! All three seek the larger truth beneath 
those illusions which even common sense accepts, but 
on which no moral faith can be based. Is the prob- 



lem that of death? Well, ask all three what is the 
reality about death, rather than its mere appear- 
ance. Poet, Philosopher, and Prophet alike know 

"We see but dimly through the mists aud vapors; 

Amid these earthly damps, 
What seem to us but sad, funereal tapers 

May be heaven's distant lamps. 

Yes, it is the common attribute of all three to look 
deeper than does the casual observer of life. The 
oar in the water appears bent; the reality is quite 
another thing'. So, in the abstruser matters of life 
and mind, we must go below the surface of things, 
seeing them not in their fragmentariness, but in 
their totality, as parts of a rational whole. Poet, 
Philosopher, and Prophet alike suspect it may be 

All nature is but art, unknown to thee ; 

All chance, direction, which thou canst not see ; 

All discord, harmony not understood ; 

All partial evil, universal good. 

It is this view of life in its completeness that the 
Poet, Philosopher, and Prophet all seek together, 
each in his own way; and in so far as they find it, 
they serve morals by revealing, through some world- 
view, the conditions of such moral confidence as may 
render an age heroic. Civilizations have won su- 
preme victories through the strength they gave. 
But while Philosopher, Poet, and Prophet agree in 



this one subject of their search, they do not all agree 
in their ways of attaining it. Their aims are alike, 
but their methods are different. Here it is that the 
Poet and the Prophet part company from the Philos- 
opher. The two former seek reality through what 
we call insight, intuition, inspiration, the divine af- 
flatus. The Prophet's eye, as well as the Poet's, 

in a fine frenzy rolling, 
Doth glance from heaven to earth, from earth to heaven. 

Not so with the Philosopher. He seeks reality by a 
far different means, — through the cold, technical 
processes of logic; through reason rather than 
through intuition; through provable and defensible 
demonstration rather than through inspiration. So 
it is, too, that the Philosopher's legitimate mode of 
expression differs from that of both the Poet and 
the Prophet. The Philosopher expounds reality in 
terms of abstract concepts, carefully made over into 
a logical system, often bristling with forbidding tech- 
nical phrases for the sake of extreme rational exact- 
ness. The Poet and the Prophet, on the other hand, 
agree in expressing their views of reality through 
concrete images, rather than through abstract con- 
ceptions; they speak eloquently through sensuous 
symbols ; they entice not only the mind, but the heart. 
"Simple, sensuous, and passionate" are both Poet 
and Prophet. They suggest rather than argue, re- 
veal rather than expound, speaking not through phi- 
losophy's reason, but through 



August anticipations, symbols, types 
Of a dim splendor ever on before 
In that eternal circle life pursues. 

For instance, the Philosopher communicates his Ab- 
solute, which includes all time and space, through a 
speech filled with the arid terms that abstract reason 
often involves; the Poet and the Prophet, however, 
finding little help in logic, return from their imme- 
diate vision and tell it in metaphor, with a rhapsody 
still in their souls such as Henry Vaughn utters : 

I saw eternity the other night 

Like a great King of pure and endless light, 

All calm, as it was bright; 

And round beneath it, Time in hours, days, years, 

Driv'n by the spheres 

Like a vast shadow mov'd, in which the world 

And all her train were hurl'd. 

It is through presumably demonstrable proofs onto- 
logical, teleological or otherwise that the Philosopher 
gives us God; but Wordsworth, caring little for such 
so-called proofs, but fresh from his solitary musings 
on nature, tells of God not in reasons, but in the 
symbols of sea and sun and sky : 

And I have felt 
A presence that disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts ; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
"Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man ; 



A motion and a spirit, that impels 

All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 

And rolls through all things. 

Or, if lie announces the moral law ruling all the 
events of the universe, he does it through no syl- 
logism; but, addressing a Duty personalized, he ex- 
claims in inspired imagery, unknown to logic's rigid 

Flowers laugh before thee on their beds, 
And fragrance on thy footing treads; 
Thou dost preserve the Stars from wrong; 
And the most ancient Heavens, through Thee, are 
fresh and strong. 

Or, again, the Poet and Prophet alike pass by the 
Philosopher's abstract proofs that life is not a play- 
thing of chance, and in concrete images and symbols 
prefer to proclaim their faith 

That life is not as idle ore, 

But iron dug from central gloom, 

And heated hot with burning fears, 
And dipt in baths of hissing tears, 

And batter 'd with the shocks of doom 

To shape and use. 

Is it any wonder that the Poet and the Prophet 
have been genial comrades on the long road that 
leads to Reality? The Poet has written the hymns 
of the Prophet; and the Prophet has given the Poet 
his visions for song. How many times have both 



lived together in the same body and spoken with the 
same lips ! 

Alike as are the Poet and the Prophet in aim, in 
method, and in language too, they differ both from 
one another and from the Philosopher in their un- 
derlying motives. For the supreme motive of the 
Poet, as of all those who are artists, is to see life in 
its Beauty; the motive of the Philosopher is to see 
life in its Reason ; the motive of the Prophet is to see 
life in its Goodness, whose ultimate name is Holi- 
ness. Each seeks reality indeed, but each cares for 
his own special side of it. Beauty for its own sake ; 
Reason for its own sake ; Goodness for its own sake ; 
each a significant part of the whole of Truth. Yet 
each involves the other two and completes them. 
The Poet seeks Beauty for its own sake, yet it must 
be Beauty that is also rational and good. The 
Philosopher seeks Reason for its own sake; yet even 
Reason, if it be true, shall not sin against Goodness 
and Beauty. The Prophet seeks Goodness for its 
own sake ; Beauty too, in the art of its cathedrals, of 
its painting, of its sculpture, of its music; but it 
must be the Beauty of Holiness. Nor may he leave 
out Reason ; only it is Reason in the service of sal- 
vation to the Good. 

But now comes a critical question pertinent to our 
quest for a basis of moral confidence. If the Poet, 
the Prophet, and the Philosopher each give us a total 
view of reality so necessary as the condition of moral 
faith, which of these three versions shall we choose? 



Well, it makes very little difference, does it, if each, 
completely carried out, involves the other two 2 Have 
a sure faith in the triumph of Beauty or of Reason 
or of Goodness, and a moral order and a heroic 
moral confidence is assured. The morally valiant 
of history have been about equally divided between 
its Philosophers, its Prophets, and its Poets. There 
was Socrates; there was Paul; there was Dante. 
Each learned by moral heroism that 

Knowledge by suffering entereth. 

Yet there is this to be said, that the conspicuous 
motive of religion is nearer the moral quest than that 
of poetry or of philosophy; for the conspicuous mo- 
tive of religion coincides with the moral motive of 
Goodness. Thus it is that religion is always the 
most natural support for moral confidence ; thus it is 
that religion is the most common way men have had 
to attain a world-view that means faith in a moral 

At any rate, this is true : one must have something 
of the Poet or the Philosopher or the Prophet in 
him to have any moral confidence at all. And now 
comes into view the acutely significant thing for our 
age ; it is an age in which all three of these historic 
roads to reality are surprisingly neglected. So, that 
our age should be one of moral skepticism is not 
an anomaly; it is a natural and inevitable correla- 
tive of the decline of poetry, philosophy, and religion. 
True, there is now a revival of poetry through the 



stimulation of the World War, which led men to 
face more frankly and seriously some of the funda- 
mental realities of life and death. Yet, in general, 
the Poet is not popular, nor is he regarded very 
seriously, nor is his message very coherent. The 
poetry of the past is neglected by even educated men, 
who tend to think of the Poets, as of all mere artists, 
as belonging to the luxuries of the spirit. Not many 
leisure hours of even the man of culture are spent in 
reading poetry. Philosophy, too, is under suspicion 
as being a matter of sheer speculation and dream 
rather than a valuable and necessary instrument of 
moral and intellectual progress. Who reads Plato, 
or Kant, or Royce, save as infrequent parts of col- 
lege curricula leading to degrees? As for religion, 
the crisis of the war indeed unveiled its concerns 
for a more serious consideration than many decades 
have known; but even yet religion is suspected by 
multitudes of men as being a mass of outgrown 
superstitions and credulous faiths, very useful in- 
deed for women and children, but of little vital con- 
cern to the modern man vigorously grounded in the 
methods and achievements of an age of reason. 

That is the point. The man of to-day knows that 
he belongs to an age of reason. And, scrutinized 
even superficially, it is easy to see that this reason 
in which he has put his robust faith and through 
which his boasted progress has taken place is the 
reason of natural science, not the reason of philoso- 
phy, or of poetry, or of religion. Natural science has 



taken the place of these things. As we have already 
intimated, the age belongs not to the Poet, or to the 
Philosopher, or to the Prophet, but to the Scientist! 
To him we owe all that is most conspicuously char- 
acteristic of our civilization; our industrial progress, 
our new means of intercommunication, making the 
whole world one, our transit over the earth and 
through the air, our medicine and surgery, pre- 
ventive and curative, our visions of a reconstructed 
civilization. Moral confidence may have waned; 
moral faith may have turned to doubt; but there is 
one faith we have not lost amid the wreck of things, 
— our faith in modern science. 

Herein lies a hope. Perhaps in this very science 
we shall yet be able to find some secure basis for a 
moral order; some foundation for that moral con- 
fidence so much needed to solve the problems of our 

We must now look at science very frankly and 
find out. 



The manner in which the professional scientist 
regards science and the manner in which the average 
man regards science are two very different things. 
Altogether, the average man has a much larger faith 
in what science can do than has the scientist himself, 
proverbially cautious as he is. 

The contemporary man of culture is likely to have 
one of two quite confident impressions; either that 
science is entirely capable of giving us a tolerably 
complete view of the world as it really is in its whole- 
ness; or that science discourages the possibility of 
such an ambitious project as being beyond our finite 
reason. These two views about science are aston- 
ishingly divergent, and one wonders how such con- 
trary notions about so well known an enterprise as 
science can flourish at the same time. But they do. 
As a matter of fact, neither view is the true one; 
and neither view is sanctioned by those cautious 
professional scientists that are fully self-conscious 
concerning science's aims and methods. Yet, since 
both views are widely current and have so important 


a bearing upon the moral interpretation and pro- 
gress of our civilization, let us examine them to see 
what measure of truth they contain. 

It is a widespread notion, encouraged by a few 
conspicuous scientists themselves, that science is 
amply capable of disposing of such questions of ulti- 
mate reality as the existence and nature of the moral 
ideal, of the soul, of God, of freedom, and of immor- 
tality, — all questions that must be met in one way or 
another before one may have a coherent world-view. 
For this is an age of reason; and reason means 
science; and science can tell us all there is to be 
known about the universe as it really is, as well as 
about life's true end; and it can devise the means of 
efficiently realizing this end. That greatest gener- 
alization of modern science, evolution, has helped 
men to gain this impression. Evolution explains 
so much that it is taken by many to explain more 
than it does. It is enlarged beyond the bounds of 
biology and is made into a law for inorganic matter, 
and even for mind ; so that we have books on cosmic 
evolution, as well as on the evolution of minds and 
of civilizations. Conspicuous instances of men who 
have helped to make such notions current are Her- 
bert Spencer and his popularizers, and Ernst 
Haeckel. A multitude of other writers, fascinated 
by the larger generalizations of science and not 



too careful of exactness, have aided in intrenching 
this tradition. 

For such as share this view of the capabilities of 
science, the results are likely to seem certain enough, 
even though largely negative of cherished beliefs 
uncritically current before natural science made its 
modern advent. The old faiths perish, both moral 
and religious. For the universe we typically gain 
is a universe where a moral ideal is either absent 
altogether, displaced by a necessity that knows only 
laws of causation, never ideals to be achieved; or 
the moral end of man is thought of as adjustment to 
his environment, or to an environment toward 
which the past seems to show we are steadily tend- 
ing. In this case, the moral ideal becomes identical 
with the goal of evolution ; and this of course can be 
known only very uncertainly, or approximately, if 
it can be known at all. As for God, the general im- 
pression is that science has ' 'little use for that hypo- 
thesis"; or, God is translated into a conception of 
the sum total of universal Force, or Energy ; or, He 
is frankly Unknowable, — which amounts to saying 
what a great agnostic has said: "What we know 
is science; what we don't know is God." As for the 
soul, if one means by such an entity something dis- 
tinct from the body in any sense, science finds no 
such reality ; at best, it is an abstract generalization 
gathered only from our passing mental states ; the 
particular mental state of the moment exists, but no 
such thing as a Mind or Soul that includes all our 



mental states, any more than there is such a thing as 
a Horse that includes all horses. As for freedom, 
all that science knows tends to disprove it, in the 
sense that we have an equal power to do one thing 
rather than another at any given moment. One has 
no power of choice in that sense ; one cannot escape 
from the universal necessity of causal law; each is 
the product of heredity and environment. Could 
we know any individual thoroughly, together with 
all the conditions surrounding him, we could predict 
his future acts as certainly as we can predict a chem- 
ical reaction or an eclipse of the sun. If we seem to 
ourselves at the moment of choice to he free, this 
is only one of our many illusions. Further reflection 
corrects this deceptive impression and convinces us 
that all that we think and do is determined by our 
preceding thoughts and deeds, and by the circum- 
stances in which we find ourselves. As for immor- 
tality, — nothing in nature lasts forever, except, pos- 
sibly, the sum total of nature itself, together with 
its immutable laws. The individual thing ever passes 
away, whether it be a sea, a mountain, a tree, or a 
man. We have no guarantee of immortality, even 
of the race. Ask nature of the fate of all her genera 
and species and her answer is sure and exceedingly 
merciless : 

"So careful of the type?" But no. 
From scarped cliff and quarried stone 
She cries, "A thousand types are gone: 

I care for nothing, all shall go." 



Such is the world-picture science is commonly sup- 
posed to draw for us. Face it frankly. At its best, 
a moral goal of physical health; a life ending at 
death; all deeds determined by the inflexible law of 
cause and effect; and a God that is the universal 
Energy or the Unknowable. In his Atala-nta in Caly- 
don, the poet Swinburne, himself a curious blending 
of the classic and the ultramodern, pictures in elo- 
quent metaphor and without intention the modern 
man as natural science leaves him. Of course, 
Swinburne does this, not as a scientist, but with his 
own poet's strong reaction of satirical pathos. Man 
is a paradox of bounteous dream and brutal fact, of 
high hope which stern reality denies. He is made of 

a measure of sliding sand 
From under the feet of the years; 

his reason, a "remembrance fallen from heaven" is 
limited by his irrationality, his "madness risen from 
hell"; his will to choose and to do is a "strength 
without hands to smite" ; his love is not an ideal, end- 
less thing, — it "endures for a breath"; and the 
grave ends his toiling that "shall not reap," for, 
while "in his heart is a blind desire," there is "in 
his eyes foreknowledge of death." So that, at last, 

His life is a watch or a vision 
Between a sleep and a sleep. 

Those who follow such a world- view as science is 
thought to give us would rightly say that one need 



not weave the thread of mockery into the texture of 
truth as Swinburne has done. One may, instead, 
face the facts cheerfully and sensibly. If we do not 
like the facts, it is no great matter. For, it may be 
said, the truth is what we desire, even though it 
destroy some cherished hopes of poets and dreamers. 
The true man is loyal to the truth, wherever it leads. 
If one wants moral valor, here is the highest moral 
valor of all. It is such frank courage on the part 
of its scientific leaders that has made our modern 
civilization great in a distinct and unprecedented 

The trouble is that such a world-view requires a 
moral valor that it cannot give. One cannot long be 
courageously loyal through toil and suffering merely 
for the sake of being courageous ; it must be for the 
sake of something that inspires courage. A cause 
whose very nature does not inspire courage is des- 
perately in need of the one thing that it can never 

Yet elaborate systems of ethics have been reared 
of late upon the foundations that science is supposed 
to give; usually, it must be remarked, not by pro- 
fessional scientists themselves, but by those who 
carry the generalizations of science much farther 
than the scientific specialist is willing to do. There 
are many attempts at an ' ' ethics of evolution. ' ' Such 
attempts seem to signify that, after all, science does 
give us a universe whose moral order is sufficient 
for a complete ethical system. But examine these 



systems carefully, try to merge your life with them, 
and you discover two things. You discover, first, 
that there have been utterly omitted from these new 
interpretations of moral values most of the things 
that the highly praised men and civilizations of the 
past have cherished, fought for, been willing to die 
for. This is no final objection to any system of moral 
values, although it does encourage further scrutiny 
of such a system. Would Socrates have drunk the 
hemlock with fortitude for the laws of health? Can 
the ideals of Plato reduce themselves to rules for 
adjustment to environment? "Would Giordano 
Bruno be burned at the stake for the sake of " normal 
functioning"? Did Leonardo da Vinci paint for the 
sake of the ' ' equilibrium of universal forces"? Is 
there a single law of evolution that an army would 
fight for? In the great historic conflicts of ideals, 
the struggle for mere bodily existence has been sacri- 
ficed in the resolute pursuit of the things that have 
been regarded higher still. Have we really ceased to 
care for these things ? More important still, can we 
cease to care for them? Did it ever strike the mod- 
ern who has attempted to insure his moral valor by 
mere scientific laws of health that he is caught be- 
tween the horns of a pitiless dilemma? If he cannot 
rid himself of moral ideals beyond mere bodily 
health of self or race, then the ideal of health will 
not suffice to enlist his moral courage ; but if, on the 
other hand, he can accept the laws of health as the 
ultimate moral values, he has adopted an ideal that 



never did and never can by itself alone enlist moral 
courage. In cither case, the moral confidence that 
breeds heroism is at low ebb. And the moral crises 
in life require moral heroism over and over again, 
or they spell moral defeat. 

Looking at such an ethics at its best, one is inspired 
with a moral confidence of about the grade of that 
revealed by the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which 
resolves itself to the skeptical query, "What's the 
useF-' It ends with the turning down of an empty 
glass. Even Omar was dissatisfied with his own 
sterile universe, and exclaims, as the reflective mod- 
ern is likely to exclaim in the presence of the moral 
order as some suppose science to interpret it, 

Ah love, could you and I with Him conspire 
To grasp this sorry scheme of things entire, 
Would we not shatter it to bits and then 
Remould it nearer to the heart 's desire ! 

Those convinced that the moral order given by 
science is the true order may well answer: "It 
makes little difference whether it appears to Omar 
or to you as 'a sorry scheme.' The universe is not 
as we make it or wish it, but as we find it. We our- 
selves may not be satisfied with it any more than 
are you, although, after all, it is foolish to be dis- 
satisfied with truth. At any rate, we do one thing 
you don't see that you must do, — we at least are 
loyal to the facts as science finds them ; and we build 
whatever morals we can upon these facts." 




We certainly must be loyal to the facts as science 
finds them; but what facts does science find? I 
want to show now that science finds no facts at all 
that justify any world-view whatever, any moral 
order of any description; that the very nature of 
scientific aim and method renders it impossible for 
science to deal with any of those ultimate questions 
that we have been considering; that, truly seen, 
science gives us absolutely no basis for either moral 
confidence or moral skepticism ; and that the cautious 
modern scientist himself is thoroughly in accord 
with this view of his subject; and that those who 
have assumed the moral interpretation of science 
have gone far beyond any results that the great body 
of professional scientists would approve. 

Many of our mistaken notions about what science 
says or does not say come from speaking as if there 
were such a thing as science in general; when all 
that we can legitimately mean by science is the par- 
ticular sciences. For what is this science that is 
supposed to say so much? It is the score or more of 
particular sciences, such as the science of astron- 
omy, the science of geology, of physics, of chem- 
istry, of biology. Or, if you include not only the 
natural sciences, but what are called the mental and 
social sciences, you may add such subjects as psy- 
chology, economics, sociology, and history. A 
given scientist is ever a specialist in some one of 



these subjects of scientific regard. I do not deny 
that there are some matters common to all the 
sciences, matters which I shall yet discuss. But just 
at present it is essential to observe that when one 
asks what science has to say on any subject, he is 
really asking what some one of the particular 
sciences has to say on that subject. 

We have just been reviewing what sort of world- 
view science is said to give us, — what is its verdict 
on such questions as the moral ideal, God, Free- 
dom, and Immortality. But now, since science is 
only a general name for the particular sciences, the 
real question is what the particular sciences have 
to say on these matters. Take the natural sciences 
first. As a matter of fact, has any of them anything 
at all to say on these great subjects? If so, which 
one of them is it that gives us any verdict about a 
moral ideal? Is it chemistry? Physics? Which 
one concerns itself with the existence and nature of 
God, or the Soul? Astronomy? Biology? In which 
sort of scientific laboratory will one find scientists 
experimenting about Freedom and Immortality? 
Turning to the mental and social sciences, does even 
the psychologist have tests for such matters, along 
with his memory tests and reaction-time tests? Does 
the scientific economist consider Immortality in his 
laws of supply and demand? Does the scientific his- 
torian give us a history of God, or show the relations 
of civilizations to His nature and purposes? The 
truth is that not one text-book of a single modern 



science, keeping strictly to its field, pretends to solve 
such matters. Not only is it a fact that these ulti- 
mate questions, whose solution is so necessary to 
any moral order, are not disposed of by the sciences 
in the way popularly supposed ; but the sciences do 
not even touch such questions in the least! One 
might know every law of every one of the special 
sciences and yet not be one whit wiser concerning 
any one of the great problems we have been dis- 

Why? Because these problems are not the prob- 
lems of the sciences in any sense. Then, whence 
came the popular impression that science actually 
does solve them? Well, it is the most natural thing 
in the world to let the assumption creep in that 
since the sciences do not give any verdict on these 
matters, they somehow give us the warrant either 
to deny them outright or to assert that at least we 
can know nothing about them. Or, one goes beyond 
the special sciences to the common assumptions that 
make the sciences possible; as, for instance, the 
assumption of the law of universal causation or the 
persistence of force; and from such larger gener- 
alizations one pretends to construct a moral order 
of some kind. It is again worthy of remark that it 
is not the great body of scientific specialists them- 
selves who do such things; it is those who take it 
upon themselves to interpret and enlarge the results 
that these specialists have gained. 

And these moral interpreters of science are often 



wholly unscientific and should be promptly and thor- 
oughly discredited. In discrediting them, it should 
be our business to show not only that the sciences 
do not deal with ultimate questions affecting the 
moral order, but that, by their very nature, they 
simply cannot. It is in the interests of science itself 
to keep within its legitimate field. 

The subject matter of every natural science is the 
world of physical objects, — objects in the world of 
space about us ; objects either capable of being ap- 
prehended by our sense organs, or imagined as ap- 
prehended by them, as stars and strata and plants 
and animals. The aim of every natural science is 
the orderly description of such physical objects and 
their explanation by the laws of causation. The 
method of natural science is primarily what logicians 
call the inductive method, the method of observation 
and experiment; by this method are proved all 
science's generalizations concerning physical facts. 
This is what scientific proof ever means — proof by 
the physical facts. Laws are to be verified by such 
facts. Hypotheses must be grounded in such facts. 
Do not forget that, for natural science, facts, to be 
accredited, must always be facts capable of observa- 
tion and experiment, facts of the physical world. 
Otherwise, the very methods of natural science 
would break down; for its instruments of experi- 
mentation and its quantitative equations are fitted 
only for its characteristic subject matter, the world 
of physical things and events. These methods grew 



out of the desire to describe and explain just this 

If natural science is this very specific sort of en- 
terprise, it at once appears that it does not and 
cannot deal with such ultimate questions as concern 
a moral order without violating its every aim and 
method, and without going entirely beyond its sub- 
ject matter. If the sole aim of natural science is 
the description and explanation of facts as they are, 
it cannot possibly give us a demonstration of facts 
as they ought to be. And yet only such a demon- 
stration would be a demonstration of what is the 
true moral ideal. It would seem rather absurd to 
find a physicist discussing whether the law of gravi- 
tation ought morally to exist; or whether events 
really ought to have causes ! Science does not con- 
cern itself with such questions. Science does not 
deal with moral ideals at all, save as the psycholo- 
gist recognizes their mere existence and their psy- 
chological origin and setting. 


In spite of this very apparent fact, there are so 
many who persist in erecting a new so-called 
''science of ethics" upon what they deem a scientific 
basis that it is well to glance at these attempts still 
further, just long enough to evaluate them. For in- 
stance, the moral standard of pleasure as the true 
end of life sometimes appears to find encouragement 



from biological evolution, psychologically interpret- 
ed. Is it not a scientific maxim that all conscious or- 
ganisms seek pleasure and avoid pain? There has 
been a tendency for some scientists to hold this doc- 
trine, although recent psychology is more likely to 
tell us that pleasure is never normally the direct ob- 
ject of desire ; that although we do indeed seek ob- 
jects whose attainment will give pleasure, yet we do 
not normally seek these objects primarily for the 
sake of the pleasure. For, we are now subtly asked, 
How may one get pleasure out of any object, say 
food, or learn that one could get pleasure out of it, 
unless one desired the food for itself in the first place 
and only thereupon chanced to find it pleasant? 
But even if it were proved that we do always desire 
pleasure, that would not prove that we ought to. Is 
it possible to espouse the monstrous doctrine that 
any act, no matter what it is, is justified just because 
we find pleasure in it? If so, the sinner is as good as 
the saint, for each attains pleasure after his own 
fashion. The fiendish thrill of the successful mur- 
derer may be as pleasant to him as the thrill of the 
hero to the one who finds joy in the saving of a life. 
The retort may be made that science teaches us 
that the sinner does not really get pleasure in the 
long run ; that we get pleasure in the long run only 
out of the fulfillment of what are called normal de- 
sires; so here at least modern science gives us a 
basis for immutable morality. Seek activities that 
are normal, be a normal person ; and what a normal 



person is, science is ready to answer. To be a nor- 
mal person is to obey the laws of nature, to adjust 
oneself to one's environment, natural and social. 
But the trouble here is that both the environment 
and the individual are constantly changing. One no 
sooner gets adjusted to things as they are than they 
alter. This is a growing world. Growing toward 
what? After all, to adjust ourselves to the world 
means in the last resort to adjust ourselves to what- 
ever is the goal of the world. What is this goal? 
The only thing science can say here is the vague 
truism that, at any rate, morals means "progres- 
sive adjustment"; when asked further what is the 
goal of this progress (which we must know if we are 
to judge whether we are progressing at all!) science 
can give no answer. What is the goal of evolution 
no scientist can even guess. What ought to be the 
goal of evolution is utterly outside scientific specu- 
lation. Verily science gives us no help here. How 
may one gain a never-changing ideal from what we 
now know of evolution? The concept of evolution 
has accustomed men to think in terms of perpetual 
change. Nothing stays put. Nothing is final. Nor 
will our knowledge greatly improve with time, for 
the goal of evolution is a flying goal; the endless 
years are ever before it and human knowledge is 
ever finite. All we can hope for is approximate 
knowledge ; and even that is extremely doubtful. No, 
even the majestic flux of evolution can give us no 
certain moral ideal. In fact, its very endlessness of 



reach breeds intellectual modesty and the moral 
skepticism that we have found characteristic of our 
age. The best science can do is to give us pruden- 
tial rules, which are fairly accurate for the particu- 
lar section of the stream of change wherein our little 
lives are placed. There is no guarantee that even 
reason itself may not alter its fundamental nature 
in the endless flow of all things onward! Reason 
arose as a biological necessity; it is the servant of 
life, not its master. Even it is no more immutable 
than its so-called truths. 

Observe that what is common in all these attempts 
to construct morals on the basis of science is the 
assumption that what actually is or has been is a 
sufficient clew to what ought to be. This assump- 
tion is far from logical, but it is extremely prevalent, 
even among those who have claims to respectable 
scientific attainment. They examine how men have 
morally acted and judged in the past, gather to- 
gether the agreements as they become evident and 
then, making a sudden leap in reasoning, announce 
them as laws of what ought to be for the future. 
The fallacy is apparent enough when once seen; 
but the harm does not end merely with making the 
past of the race mandatory over its future. The 
more fundamental result is an arrant materialism; 
for since ethics is to be "scientific," and since nat- 
ural science concerns itself only with matter, all 
immaterial ideals are ignored as being outside scien- 
tific attention, and to the average man are thus made 



to seem unreal. Moral laws become not only the 
tyranny of the yesterdays over the to-morrows, but 
are reduced to mere laws of bodily health and of effi- 
ciency, to biologic and economic rules of living. And 
even then what is the sense of saying that we ought 
to obey these rules when, according to science's law 
of universal causation, we cannot do anything else, 
since we ourselves are parts of an evolutionary pro- 
cess that will not be changed to right or left by any 
caprice of our wills ? 

None of this is meant to be an indictment of mod- 
ern science. At most, it is merely a protest against 
the misuse of science. It is a statement of how 
science has gone astray among the great body of 
men who tacitly or openly and, I think, uncritically 
rely upon their own interpretations of it for a solu- 
tion of moral problems. 

So, again, if the aim of natural science is to de- 
scribe and explain physical objects, it cannot pos- 
sibly have anything to say about God or the Soul, — 
unless, indeed, it claims that these themselves are 
physical things. Then and then only can natural 
science prove or disprove them ; or, realizing that it 
does not know everything about the physical world, 
science may say that, at any rate, it has yet to find 
such entities within its sphere. Science will not 
greatly object if, for your purposes, you spell this 
ignorance as the ''Unknowable" and call it God; 
only, if it is really unknowable, why so sure it is 
God? Or, if it comforts you to put capitals to Force 



and Energy and to kneel before them, science will 
not trouble to molest your devotions. But concern- 
ing a God such as the great religions have recog- 
nized, a God that is a spirit, that " dwells not in 
temples made with hands"; or concerning a Soul 
that is not flesh and blood, and is not a quantity for 
weight or measure, natural science has nothing to 
say. Again, for natural science, such questions are 

And, finally, natural science is perfectly right in 
pointing out that in her realm all things pass away, 
that they are mortal; and that all things that come 
within her regard do what they are compelled to do 
by the inflexible necessity of the causes within and 
around them, — they are "fated," not free. But if 
any one goes further and asks if there is anything 
outside the realm of natural science that is immortal 
and free, science will rightly answer: "I know of 
no such entities and no such realm. Your question is 
not pertinent to my business as a scientist. You 
might as well ask a man in his capacity as a lawyer 
for expert judgment on a problem in architecture." 


What is true of the natural sciences in these mat- 
ters is just as surely true of the mental and social 
sciences, although at first it may not seem so, prob- 
ably because these sciences are not yet so well de- 
fined, and especially because some of those who have 



devoted themselves to them have not always been 
so careful to keep within purely scientific limits. 
Yet, without going into tedious discussion, this much 
is apparent at once. All the recognized mental and 
social sciences are at one with natural science in aim 
and in method, whatever may be said of their subject 
matter. Here one is constrained to remark that in 
so far as the social sciences seem to differ from the 
natural sciences by dealing with matter outside the 
realm of physical objects and events, they deal with 
what belongs to the science of psychology. But does 
the modern science of psychology deal with mental 
states as such? Does it not rather describe and ex- 
plain mental phenomena only through those physical 
processes of the nervous system that accompany 

However this may be, the only excuse for regard- 
ing the social sciences as ''sciences" at all is their 
own avowal that, on the analogy of the natural 
sciences, their legitimate purpose is to describe and 
explain social phenomena as they actually are. They 
are devotees to the "facts" as much as is the phys- 
icist or the chemist; and this is in their praise. 
Now, in the social sciences, no more than in phys- 
ics or chemistry, can you logically derive from 
merely what are the facts what ought to be the facts. 
Yet, this is the first task in constructing a moral 
order. The mere description and explanation of 
social phenomena as they have been and are does 
not warrant sociology as a science to deduce so- 



ciety as it ultimately ought to be. This is going be- 
yond both the data and method of sociology. The 
mere descriptive determination of historical events 
in their interrelations does not give the historian 
any scientific warrant for announcing what the 
course of history for the future ought to be made. 
The social sciences may adopt moral ideals; they 
may show historic trends toward moral ideals ; but 
they do not and cannot prove moral ideals. Nor can 
they attain to the solution of the ultimate realities, 
such as God and Immortality, any more than can 
natural science, because their own definitions of their 
subject matter and method simply leave out such 
questions as essentially irrelevant. 

If these considerations do not suffice, there is 
one consideration that will. Not one of the special 
sciences, natural or social, concerns itself with any- 
thing but an abstracted aspect of reality, — not one 
of them with reality as it is in its wholeness. The 
chemical truth about things is confessedly not the 
whole truth; neither is the biological or geological 
side of reality anything but a partial account of 
things as they are. Society has its economic side, 
its historic side, its psychological side ; but none of 
these alone is concrete society in its truth. To get 
at not merely a partial but a complete view of real- 
ity, one must transcend any and all of these special 
sciences and get a glimpse of the total world of 
which each special science gives us but a fragment. 
No science does this. And yet, as we have seen, it 



is a world-view that we are after as a basis for a 
moral order and moral confidence ! 

Of course, one could leave the aims and methods 
of science as I have described them and engage in 
other enterprises and call them " science, " as some 
men have done; but it would be only a "sort of 
science," a science by metaphor, which would be 
promptly discredited as strictly science by every 
careful scientist, — such as projects that make the 
biological concept of evolution explain the whole uni- 
verse. I shall have something to say about such 
pseudo-science in its proper place. Unfortunately, 
there is an abundance of it. 


But because science rightly says, "I find no moral 
order, I find no God, I find no Soul, no Immortality 
in my realm," — is that the same as saying that the 
universe holds no such realities! Yes, on one con- 
dition ; if science 's realm is the only reality we can 
prove to exist, and if scientific method is the only 
cogent method of demonstration. It is a quite pop- 
ular impression that this is so. And yet here is a 
significant fact : There is not a single scientific spe- 
cialist of repute who has attempted to prove by 
scientific method that what science cannot demon- 
strate is thereby disproved. Science itself has 
never taught us that all toe know is science. Such a 
position is either a gratuitous assumption or a con- 



elusion of philosophers who have paradoxically gone 
utterly heyond science to prove that there is no 
proof beyond science ! 

Therefore, to say that the subject matter of science 
is physical objects is not the same as to say that all 
realities are physical ; although this may be so. To 
say that the method of science is observation and 
experiment is not to say that the only strictly logi- 
cal and exact method of attaining truth is observa- 
tion and experiment; although the truth may turn 
out to be this; yet if it does, what about mathe- 
matics, which is exact enough, and yet which is 
neither a natural nor a social science? To say that 
the aim of science is the description and explanation 
of facts as they are is not to say that there is no 
demonstrable realm of things as they ought to be; 
although, again, this may be the truth. The mere 
fact that science does not pronounce upon these mat- 
ters is not a legitimate basis for skepticism, but only 
for open-mindedness. If science were entirely 
through with her endless task, these would still be 
open questions left over by science as being outside 
her legitimate realm, and which science would not 
have prejudiced in any way. 

Anything else is scientific dogmatism, a dogma- 
tism that boldly assumes without proof that science 
and proof are identical. This may be so ; but it is 
not at all scientific merely to assume it. Let us be 
as carefully logical in talking about science as we 
are in talking within science ! Scientific dogmatism 



that leaps out of its region of proof into the realm 
of non-scientific realities is even worse than the kind 
of religious dogmatism that presumes upon giving 
verdicts on scientific questions. It is worse because 
science has made more pretensions to logical pro- 
cedure than religion ever has. The two realms are 
related; but the relation is not one that permits 
irrelevant and illogical encroachment. Such scien- 
tific dogmatism is bad for the interests of both 
science and the moral verities. Scientific experts 
have long appreciated that science progresses in 
proportion as scientists are exact in the definition 
of their regions of search. 

Our hope that a moral order as a basis for moral 
confidence might be discovered in the verdicts of 
modern science has proved in vain. But there is 
one result of our search that is not absolutely hope- 
less. We have not yet been forced to moral skepti- 
cism as the final outcome, although we have found 
this to be the unwarranted notion of some of the 
popular construers of science. I have tried to show 
clearly how illogical such an interpretation is, and 
how antithetical to the spirit of science itself. What 
we have reached at last is merely that science has no 
answer whatever to give to our questions about a 
moral order and the great verities that go with it. 
It is something to know this. What we sorely want 
to know further is whether there is any other road 
to a moral order that can be traveled by such men as 
put their faith in reason. 




In his novel, Saint's Progress, John Galsworthy 
admirably shows how modern science and the World 
War have profoundly modified our traditional faiths. 
The "saint" is an other-worldly clergyman of the 
Church of England, who faces the bewildering task 
of squaring his dogmas with the new attitudes of 
mind well represented by his worldly-wise son-in- 
law, a physician. For this latter spokesman of a 
modern era, science is the only test of truth; and 
for him science and demonstrable reason are identi- 
cal. He is thoroughly aware that this reason has its 
limits, that there are matters it cannot solve; but 
he does insist that lt it y s the highest test we com ap- 
ply; and that behind that test all is quite dark and 
unknowable. ' ' 

This is the typical attitude of the contemporary 
man. Science is all we have. We must rely upon 
reason, must we not % As for any other way to truth, 
the door seems closed. The contemporary man is 
at one with the honest challenge of Galsworthy's 
honest rationalist when he says further: "If you 
want me to enter a temple of little mysteries, leav- 
ing my reason and senses behind — as a Mohamme- 



dan leaves his shoes — it won't do to say to me 
simply : ' There it is ! Enter ! ' You must show me 
the door; and you can't!" 

We may as well accept this challenge. We must 
show that verily there is a door, and that it leads 
not to the little mysteries, but to the great verities 

The contemporary man is perfectly right when he 
insists that we must rely upon reason for our con- 
victions, and that this reason must be cogent. What- 
ever else our age may develop, it will still be an age 
of reason. But our novelist's modern spokesman, 
like many of us, in his zeal for reason has made one 
irrational assumption in spite of himself, — the 
common assumption that the ways of reason and 
the ways of science are identical; that when 
science has had its say, reason also has had its 
last word. 

But while reason includes the reason of science 
and, indeed, creates it, there is just a bare possibility 
that the reasoning methods used in what we call 
science are not the only reasoning methods there 
are. It is just possible that the alternatives are not 
science on the one hand, and the irrational faith of 
Galsworthy's saint on the other. It may be that we 
can go beyond the limits of science and still remain 
within the limits of reason ; a reason just as exact, 



just as conclusive, as science's reason ever was. To 
say this is not to prove it; but it may be so. 

The fact is, every expert logician knows that the 
ways of reasoning used in science do not exhaust 
reason; that one may accurately and rationally 
demonstrate things that conventional science does 
not at all touch ; that there are perfectly reasonable 
human aims that do not happen to belong to science 's 
particular province, and logical methods not perti- 
nent to the special tasks of science, yet just as de- 
cisive and defensible. 

It is possible to show this conclusively. But, be- 
fore doing so, I wish to note that there is every pre- 
sumption in favor of it; that, otherwise, our lives 
as well as our sciences would be somewhat absurd. 

Certain it is that most of the things we think we 
know well enough to stake our lives upon them were 
never proved by science and never can be proved by 
science. That I am I, the same self this morning 
that went to sleep last night, no scientific laboratory 
ever proved or could prove. That life is worth 
while; that an exalted friendship is a noble thing; 
that one loves his beloved; that some causes are 
worthy of sacrifice and death; that the Venus de 
Milo is beautiful, — no one ever goes to science for 
the proof of such things. To which of the sciences 
would one appeal on such a quest? Physics? 
Astronomy? Sociology? And yet we, including the 
scientist, act as though we knew these things much 
better than even the formulas of scientific labora- 



tories. Such truths give their character to whole 
civilizations. For such truths men are sometimes 
willing to die; whereas, it would be difficult to find 
a sane person willing to die for the First Law of 
Motion, or a chemical analysis. 

If the scientifically-minded man replies that we 
do not and cannot "know" such things in the sense 
of proving them, he has suddenly put most of our 
knowledge outside the realm of proof, and has con- 
fessed how little what we call ' 'proof " is worth to 
him and to all men who still believe these things. 
If, on the other hand, he insists that such matters 
are provable, he has admitted that there are ways of 
proof that science does not use within its field, — 
which is precisely what I intend to show. Or, if 
one is scientifically radical enough to say that these 
matters are not only unknowable, but just for that 
reason not certain in any sense; that I can by no 
rational way be assured that I am I, or that life is 
worth while, or that there are causes worthy of 
sacrifice, then let us see at once that such a scientific 
radical has disposed of one problem only to become 
involved in a still deeper one, a difficulty fatal to 
that very science in which he places his uttermost 
faith. For if every truth must be proved by the 
demonstrations of science before it is really certain, 
what about the mass of well-known assumptions that 
science makes before it can even begin the business 
of scientific investigation, assumptions that science 
makes but does not prove; assumptions said to be 



at the basis of all science, and yet never demon- 
strated in any scientific laboratory! Every science 
has such assumptions which it does not even pro- 
fess to prove. For instance, every science assumes 
the Law of Universal Causation, that every event 
has an adequate cause; yet no science proves it; 
rather is it held to be the presupposition of all 
science. In his Limits of Evolution, Howison has 
well shown the assumptions back of evolution, 
assumptions which no biologist considers within 
his business to demonstrate; as, the assumptions 
of time and space, which are themselves not prod- 
ucts of evolution surely, — what an absurdity it were 
to say that there was a time when time was not! 
No, these, with many other presuppositions, must 
be first assumed to make evolution in the least pos- 
sible. Or, take the assumption made by all science 
that the fundamental character of the universe will 
be the same to-morrow as yesterday, and the same 
elsewhere as here, sometimes called the Law of the 
Uniformity of Nature; what scientist ever proved 
this? Yet, what scientist thinks he could get along 
without it? 

Precisely because of these assumptions which 
science itself does not prove, but uses as " working 
hypotheses," the scientist must say either that there 
is some method of demonstration outside the limits 
of science, by which these or kindred assumptions 
may be proved, or that they are not known or cer- 
tain at all, — which all at once makes the super- 



structure of science as fearfully uncertain as these, 
its foundations. Nor can one find refuge in the 
plea that these assumptions, while not absolutely 
proved by science, are made at least probable by 
scientific method. For, back of the assumption of 
even the probability of such a law as that every 
event has a cause is the assumption of other cer- 
tainties without which no truth can be even probable, 
— as the assumption that nature is everywhere and 
for all time uniform. And, as a matter of fact, the 
scientist does not act as though he believed that it 
is only "probable" that a given event has a cause. 
While he is working, he assumes it as an absolute 
certainty and goes about resolutely to find the 
cause, with no doubt whatever that however often 
he may meet with failure, the cause is somewhere 
to be found. 

Is it not much more reasonable, therefore, to say 
that the assumptions actually necessary for science 
are not mere guesses ; that they can be really demon- 
strated as probable or certain; and that, since no 
scientific laboratory can do this sort of thing, there 
are rational methods of arriving at such truths other 
than those restricted to the realm of science itself? 
This would save science, and liberate reason for 
other tasks than those that science has set for itself. 
Is there not a suspicion at least that this is a possi- 

All that I am doing now is to arouse a mere sus- 
picion that there are other ways of reasonable proof 



than the ways used by what we call science ; that it 
is unreasonable merely to assume that science and 
reason are identical. I have shown what would 
happen to our commonest beliefs as well as to 
science itself if such a view were carried to its logi- 
cal conclusion. But it remains to remark that if 
there be no rational knowledge outside science, there 
can be no such thing as morals, no such thing as a 
distinction between right and wrong. For, again, 
science has to do only with what is, never with the 
demonstration of what ought to be. And yet we 
need such a demonstration. Truly the moral ideals 
for which we suffer cannot be thought of by us as 
mere guesses! A rational man does not choose 
heroically to live and heroically to die for what he 
is convinced is a mere conjecture ! Moral faith must 
be rational in order to abide. Is this call for proof 
in vain because science cannot give it? Once more, 
is there not at least a suspicion awakened that, be- 
yond the limits of the sciences, reason has still great 
and legitimate tasks to perform? 

Yet scientists in particular and the modern man 
in general look upon any such enterprise with a 
justifiable suspicion. The suspicion is amply war- 
ranted for two reasons. The first reason is that 
when men have actually gone beyond science to at- 
tain truth, they have all too often engaged in va- 
garies, sentimental or otherwise, that could not 
stand the test of the rigid logic that science is ac- 
customed to demand. The second reason, still more 



important, is that often when men have tried to en- 
ter realms of truth not recognized by the sciences 
themselves, they have, nevertheless, in the effort to 
remain "scientific," borrowed the methods of 
science and illegitimately extended "science" into 
realms where it has no business, and where its 
methods have broken down; as, when one tries to 
introduce the quantitative methods of physical 
science into the mental world, or into the world of 
moral values. Such attempts excite the amuse- 
ment of the strict scientist, if not his righteous 
derision. They are made because men, enamored of 
the name, wish to call their disciplines "science," 
when, strictly speaking, they are not science at all in 
the sense they pretend. This science-by-analogy is 
the most pernicious thing we have to-day in the way 
of the progress of truth. It has done more than 
anything else to confirm the scientist, and the edu- 
cated man in general, in the conviction that all voy- 
ages in search of truth outside the charted routes 
of science are doomed to disaster. 


But now it is well to look at the whole matter con- 
structively, seeking once for all to discover whether, 
science failing us, there is any other rational way 
to the great verities that underlie our moral faith ; 
whether reason can prove a moral order, or whether 
we are predestined to a permanent skepticism on 



all those subjects that heretofore have been the 
greatest themes of religion, of poetry, and of the 
larger straggles of civilizations. We are not to lose 
our trust in science. Yet in our search, let us not 
forget that we trust science for only one reason, 
namely, because we trust reason itself ; and that we 
must trust any other means of proof for the same 
reason, — or our reason for trusting science is at 
once repudiated. 

What, then, is the proof that is not science, — the 
proof of the truths we live by? 

The proof that is not science is the same as that 
by which science itself becomes certain of the under- 
lying principles upon ivhich all its own procedure 
rests, — the principles to which I have referred as 
the presuppositions of all science, and without which 
no science is possible. Nowhere have I said that 
some such presuppositions are not provable, but 
merely that they cannot be proved within scientific 
method. But they are demonstrable, so far as any- 
thing is demonstrable. I intend now to show in what 
way they are demonstrable. Then I intend to show 
that the moral order and its great verities are 
demonstrable in precisely the same way. Surely if 
one gives a proof for the truths of the moral order 
as cogent as that which science gives for the Law of 
Universal Causation, or the Law of the Uniformity 
of Nature, it is enough; especially since these laws 
are considered well enough proved to base all science 
upon them! Surely, those who are satisfied only 



with scientific proof will be satisfied with the proofs 
that satisfy science! 

Exactly how does one prove such a basal law as 
the Law of Universal Causation? It has been con- 
sidered quite respectable to say that such certainty 
as it possesses is due to the fact that science has 
never found an instance to the contrary ; that when- 
ever it looks for causes it finds them, so far as 
the phenomena are accessible, and so far as it ap- 
proaches them with sufficient knowledge and ade- 
quate instruments of experimentation. But if this 
is the only proof for the assertion that every event 
in the universe has a cause, it is" a most doubtful 
piece of reasoning. For this pretends to be a 
universal law, and the universe is a big place, both 
wide and deep. How little of the limitless universe 
to which this law is said to apply without excep- 
tion does science know anything about ! How small 
is our scientific knowledge of our own planet, 
even through our most advanced sciences ! ' ' Every 
event has a cause"; yet how many regions of 
"events" no science yet even touches, or touches 
only vaguely because of the stubbornness or the 
complexity of the phenomena! How many sciences 
are still in their infancy! Is it not a little more 
than logical daring to say that, because the few 
events which science has been able to understand 
thoroughly have been found to have adequate causes, 
therefore every event in a limitless universe can 
be accounted for in the same way? Observe, I 



do not deny it at this point ; indeed, I insist upon it 
for the time being; but is this the proof of it? Of 
course, the plain fact is that even among the events 
daily accessible to us there are many whose causes 
have never been actually found; else science would 
have no further tasks. Concerning these events 
whose causes are not yet completely found, what 
shall we say? "We shall say" (so runs the favorite 
answer) "that if we knew more about these events, 
their causes would certainly be discovered; and 
even if they are never discovered, we know the 
causes are there; it is only our ignorance that is 
at fault. For instance, we cannot now predict what 
a given human being will do at a certain time next 
week; but if we knew as much about him as we do 
about the solar system, we would discover all the 
causes involved and could predict his actions as 
certainly as we now do an eclipse of the sun." 

This may be true ; but merely to say it is not proof 
of it. Logically, it would be just as cogent to reply : 
"I hold that some events are of such a character 
that they are not subject to the laws of causation; 
that if we knew more about these events, their causes 
would certainly not be discovered. You are right, 
it is only our ignorance that is at fault ; but it is not 
an ignorance of causes, but of the nature of the 
phenomena, which requires them not. If you knew 
as much about a human being as about the solar 
system, you would know enough to know that human 
acts are not predictable as are your eclipses. We 



both speak in ignorance ; so / have as much right to 
a hypothesis built upon ignorance as have you." 

This answer would lead us at once to the real 
consideration to which science resorts to substan- 
tiate an ultimate hypothesis such as this. For one 
can easily imagine a scientist replying to such an 
erratic outburst: "If you make assumptions like 
that, do you not see that you make all science simply 
impossible? For do you not see that if the scien- 
tist were once convinced that events could not be 
explained by causes, science's whole search would 
become irrational? To seek causes is to presume 
that they are there; and to seek causes and their 
effects is the central business of science. Science 
can allow no such exceptional phenomena as you 
gratuitously suggest, without admitting that a scien- 
tific understanding of the world is impossible. The 
whole scientific system of knowledge would break 
down. The entire scientific ideal of search would 
become a will-o'-the-wisp. No, we need the prin- 
ciple that every event is capable of explanation by 
adequate causes before we can begin a single scien- 
tific experiment. Do away with this principle and 
you do away with science." 

Such a reply, if it is correct, contains a real and 
convincing reason for accepting the Law of Uni- 
versal Causation (or such a modification of it as I 
shall later suggest), namely, that science is impos- 
sible without it and progresses only in terms of it. 
And, likewise, this is the real reason for the ac- 



ceptance of such other basal principles as the Law 
of the Uniformity of Nature and the Law of the 
Conservation of Energy. These are regarded as 
laws of science because science conceives that it 
could not exist without them. These are sometimes 
cautiously called " working hypotheses"; which 
means that while the scientist is actually working, 
they cease to be mere hypotheses and become prac- 
tical certainties. 

We may, for the moment, accept these great pre- 
suppositions of science for the same reason as that 
by which science accepts them. Let us understand 
that we must believe in them just as much as we 
believe in science itself. If we want science, we 
cannot evade them. 

But, endeavoring as I am to be logical, I am go- 
ing to persist a little further and ask a question 
which, at first, may seem abundantly foolish. I 
shall ask it in all seriousness, however, and for the 
sake of arriving at a great truth that has thus far 
eluded our notice. For the present, I accept the 
statement that if one wants science one cannot es- 
cape these great hypotheses. And now for my fool- 
ish question: Why have science at all? One says 
that these great hypotheses are necessary to science, 
which is only the same as saying that they are just 
as necessary as is science. But how show that 
science itself is necessary? Of course I admit that 
it is; but how does one proceed to prove it? 

If any one has the patience to answer such a ques- 



tion, he is likely to answer it in one of two ways. 
He may say that we have science because we pre- 
fer to have it rather than not to have it, and that 
this is enough to satisfy a sensible man. I remem- 
ber meeting a famous scientist, an entomologist, 
who said that while in the country collecting speci- 
mens, people very often watched him wonderingly 
and bothered him with questions. He answered 
them in a way that prevented much further conver- 
sation. For when the inquisitive loiterer would ask 
what was the use of capturing all those bugs, he 
would reply, "No use." When asked further what 
he did it for then, he would answer, "For fun." 
This usually had the effect of earning him his soli- 
tude or, at least, his peace. But of course such an 
answer does not state the literal fact ; it is a make- 
shift. The quest for scientific truth may indeed be a 
fascinating occupation, but it did not arise and does 
not continue merely for the fun of it, and there cer- 
tainly is a use to it. The true justification of science 
is that it serves human life; that by it and by it 
alone much of the significant progress of civiliza- 
tion is made possible. By its means nature is con- 
quered and shaped to our purposes ; cities are built; 
favorable conditions for living are created; social 
intercommunication and cooperation are enlarged; 
and an intellectual interest is given to life such as 
the race has never before known. What justifies 
science? The answer is, "Life itself." 
But since our quest has carried us this far, I am 



going to risk asking a question still more foolish 
than before; not that I doubt what the answer is, 
but because I want to reach the root of the whole 
matter. So far, our result is that we must accept 
the presuppositions of science in order to have 
science at all; and that we must accept science in 
turn because the interests of human life justify 
it. But suppose some perverted soul raises his 
voice at this juncture and asks, however fat- 
uously, "What, in turn, is it that justifies human 

This may be as foolish a question as you please; 
but it is a perfectly logical question at this juncture 
and, once raised, it has to be answered in some way, 
especially since we have at last rested all our proofs 
upon the hidden assumption that the life that science 
serves is itself justifiable. And I am certain that 
the answer to this question is a simple one, so far 
as it can be answered at all. The only justification 
that human beings can give for living is that they 
find life desirable, that they want it. Beyond the 
fact of this fundamental want one cannot go. It is 
sometimes called the "instinct for self-preserva- 
tion," expressing itself in the "struggle for ex- 
istence." Why men should have the instinct for 
life nobody knows. It is an ultimate fact. We 
justify life by the fact that we want it. If any one 
says that he does not want to live, there is no way 
in the world of proving to him that life is worth 
while, except to point out to him, by appealing to 



his reason and imagination, that he is mistaken in 
what he thinks he wants. 

I am through asking foolish questions and am 
ready to summarize what we have attained by our 
argument. We justify the great underlying laws of 
science, such as the Law of Universal Causation, 
by the fact that we want science ; we justify science 
in turn through the fact that we want life. And 
now, observe, the whole imposing structure rests 
not upon the inductions of science, but upon a de- 
sire, an ultimate want that will not be gainsaid, that 
no argument will down; upon which, indeed, as an 
ultimate fact, all arguments are based. In the last 
resort, all the elaboration and all the proof of mod- 
ern science stands or falls upon the irreducible 
human desire for life, together with the things that 
life demands, — which include science and all that 
makes science possible. Grant that life is worth 
while, and you grant all the rest. Deny it, and the 
entire superstructure falls. But you won't deny 
it. The desire for life and its corollaries are yours 
just as surely as you are you. 


The scientist may well answer that if the truths 
of science are as sure as the universal desire for 
life, they ought to be sure enough to satisfy any- 
body. True. But I add that if the sciences and 
their great presuppositions find ample justification 



in the desire for life and its necessary conditions, 
any body of truth other than science that finds this 
same justification is equally proved. And I now 
affirm that the moral order, and ivhatever body of 
truths it necessarily carries, is as surely involved 
in the desire for life as is the scientific order in 
which we have such certain faith. 

To live is to act. For human beings, to act is 
to distinguish between actions as better and worse, 
right and wrong. To make such a distinction is to 
imply a criterion of right and wrong, which reflec- 
tion shows to be a goal which right action attains 
and wrong action defeats. This fact, then, of an 
end which some acts serve better than others is as 
certain as the desire for conscious human life, for 
it is inextricably involved in every plan of living. 
Further, once any human being denies this and is 
so foolish as to consider any deed as good as any 
other deed, he dies. For instance, for such a be- 
ing, to eat poison would be the same as to eat food. 
In other words, to accept life is to accept that there 
are some things we ought to do and some things we 
ought not to do, and to solve what they are. But 
such a solution is a moral order! The idea of a 
goal or end toward which all right actions lead is 
nothing more or less than what we call the moral 
ideal. Thus, to accept life is not only to accept 
science, which tells us what is, but a moral order, 
which tells us what ought to be, — which means a 
moral ideal as a criterion of all the deeds that are 



to be called right deeds as distinguished from wrong 

Further if (since life demands science) we are 
warranted in accepting any additional truths neces- 
sary to make a scientific order possible, we are just 
as surely warranted, if life demands a moral order, 
in accepting any additional truths necessary to make 
a moral order possible. Such truths will be proved 
just as surely and decisively as science's great pre- 
suppositions. In his lecture on "The Dilemma of 
Determinism," William James says: "I for one 
feel as free to try the conception of moral as of 
mechanical or of logical reality. ... If a certain 
formula for expressing the nature of the world vio- 
lates my moral demand, I shall feel as free to throw 
it overboard, or at least to doubt it, as if it disap- 
pointed my demand for uniformity of sequence, for 
example." This is putting the matter negatively; 
but the same test applies to the truths we shall ac- 
cept. Thus, if it should happen that a moral order 
absolutely requires the working hypothesis of God, 
or of no God ; of Immortality, or of Mortality, these 
verities are just as certainly proved thereby as are 
the Law of Universal Causation or the Law of the 
Uniformity of Nature, — or whatever modification of 
them is necessary for science. This is proof enough 
for any scientific mind, is it not? Again I say, 
surely those who are satisfied only with scientific 
proof will be satisfied with the proofs that satisfy 
science ! 



And here we see a great light. Not only is a 
moral order as certainly proved as is a scientific 
order, but even more certainly proved. For science 
could not justify its own existence as serviceable 
and necessary to life's "progress" if there were no 
moral order to interpret what " progress" means, 
no realm of ' ' things that ought to be " which science 
serves. Science could not be justified by its use 
if it were not useful to something that ought to be 
achieved. But, once more, the sciences certainly do 
not attempt to establish what ought to be, but only 
what actually is. A moral order is just as certainly 
presupposed by science as is any other of science's 
working hypotheses; and, with it, every verity logi- 
cally necessary to establish a moral order. So, now, 
unless these verities, whatever they are, are estab- 
lished, science itself is in vain! Science does not 
exist for its own sake ; yet science cannot prove any- 
thing outside itself that science is for. But that 
something must be proved somehow. It was with 
some such idea of an omitted moral order which 
science certainly proves not, yet as surely requires, 
that Tennyson protests we are 

Not only cunning casts in clay : 
Let Science prove we are, and then 
What matters Science unto men, 

At least to me? I would not stay. 

Without the moral order, which science serves so 
well, without an ideal of life as it ought to be, which 
science helps to achieve, there could be no such thing 



as the self-sacrificing devotion and valor which the 
scientific seeker for truth himself so often requires 
through long and arduous years of search. Such 
unfaltering devotion can be rationally inspired only 
by the thought that science leads somewhere and 
serves life's uttermost values, a goal that is not 
yet, but which ought to be and shall be. Otherwise, 
science falls and its assumptions with it. So, now, 
at last, it stands revealed that not only are the moral 
order and its implications as surely founded as is 
the scientific order, but that science itself is finally 
justified only by the existence of the moral order 
and its necessary working hypotheses. 

From this appears the true place of science in a 
moral order. Its function is never to dictate what 
shall be the goals of human struggle, but to furnish 
the expert means by which these goals shall be at- 
tained. This is its great and never-ending contri- 
bution to civilization. When science becomes an end 
in itself, civilization becomes abortive. When 
science gives us the necessary laws by which all 
progress must proceed ; when it furnishes us through 
chemistry, physics, engineering, medicine, and the 
countless other sciences, the manner in which we 
are to mold ourselves and our environments to the 
ideal of what ought to be, it becomes the key to all 
certain advance. No science can tell me whether I 
ought to go to New York; but if it is once decided 
that I ought to go, I shall be utterly dependent upon 
science for the best means to get there. Thus, 



science becomes one of the greatest achievements 
of any civilization, once granted a certain goal which 
it serves. But ever is science the servant of life, 
not its master. Out of life's needs it arose. It 
should be a passion. Into life it returns trans- 
figured; and that is its worth and glory. 


The proof of the truths we live by has turned out 
to be not within the methods of experimental science, 
yet involved in that science. If it is not the proof 
ordinarily recognized by the scientist, one might 
ask if, by any chance, it is nearer the proof of the 
Philosopher, the Poet, or the Prophet. Our high- 
way to truth may be one of the highways they tread. 
The fact is, it combines the ways of all three. It is 
the way of the Philosopher, whose trust is in reason 
and whose most frequent proof of ultimate prem- 
ises is that what cannot be denied without contra- 
diction cannot be denied at all. Technically, this is 
what is called the "dialectical proof.'' But what it 
really amounts to is that whatever violates human 
nature as it really is violates what human nature 
will accept as truth. In the last resort, it is an 
analysis of what human life fundamentally demands, 
being what it is; of what human nature ultimately 
and unequivocally desires. This has been our region 
of proof of a moral order, as it is the region of the 
final justification of science. 



It is here that not only the Philosopher and the 
Scientist, but the Poet and the Prophet are sud- 
denly found to agree. For all four must agree that 
the only "proof" of what we ultimately desire is 
an ultimate Fact discoverable within ourselves ; the 
Fact of a desire for life, with all that it involves, 
from which logic starts to reason, yet which it can- 
not deduce, but only finds. The search for this 
Fact is the search for the Beatific Vision of both 
Prophet and Poet, found, if you please, not by logic, 
but by experience, and expressed best not by logic, 
but by art. In this sense, truth is often expressed 
not only by syllogisms, but by the great temples 
and poems and symphonies. Truth not only rea- 
sons with Aristotle, but sometimes sings with Ho- 
mer. All great men who have "found themselves" 
have come upon this Fact of inexpugnable desire 
and its interpretation. They went on the great ad- 
venture, the great experiment, which sought this 
Fact in its full meaning; and when they found it, 
they rejected all else and erected all truth upon it, 
whether it was science, or philosophy, or poetry, or 
religion. Inspiring Plato's ideal world, Paul's utter 
martyrdom, Dante's ascent of Hell, Shakespeare's 
tragic dooms and triumphs, and Darwin's vast dis- 
covery was the finding of this basic Fact in some 
guise, the Fact of a supreme desire that would 
not be gainsaid, that was the key to the meaning of 
life, that ivas life. These men became "geniuses." 
Their souls were on fire. They were inspired. They 



were the great experimenters, who through storm 
and stress found what the "instinct for self-preser- 
vation" and the "struggle for existence" really 
means. Their results may have been abundantly 
wrong. If so, we must be very, very cautious, that 
is all. But their method of the final proof of the 
truths we live by was right. They came inevitably 
and logically to this : If one would have any truth, 
one must know that one must start somewhere. And 
one must start where life starts. "Whatever life 
fundamentally and consistently and inexpugnably 
demands is true and must be fought for, whether it 
be a science and its presuppositions, or a phi- 
losophy, or a religion. 

We started upon a quest for a rational and prov- 
able basis for confidence in a moral order. We 
have found it, if we can trust logic in the least. But 
so far, we have only shown that a moral order is 
logically necessary. Just what a moral order in- 
volves has not yet even been attempted. But this is 
all-important. We have found the faint beginnings 
of a road to the truths we live by. Whither does it 
lead? Just what are these truths? Our task is only 
begun. Having passed the first logical crisis of 
our search, the most interesting part still remains 
before us. We know what are alleged to be some of 
the necessary hypotheses of science ; what, now, are 
some of the necessary hypotheses for a moral order, 
that is, besides the hypothesis of science itself? 

The first of these necessary truths for a moral 



order has already been determined. There can be 
no moral order without a moral ideal by which right 
and wrong are to be distinguished. What is this 
ideal? I have already shown that our age is rife 
with conflicting interpretations of it. I have also al- 
ready submitted a solution of this conflict, emerging 
in the conclusion that the true moral ideal, the least 
that one can get along with without contradiction, 
is what I have tentatively called Total Self-realiza- 
tion, which attempts rationally to conciliate all con- 
flicting ideals. I based this conciliation not upon a 
guess, but upon a fact, a fact as basal as life itself, 
nay, a fact that is life itself; namely, the desire that 
all desires be fulfilled so far as may be. I tried to 
point out that broad as is such an ideal, it is not 
indefinite and is not futile. 

I shall have much more to say about it now, as 
are unfolded one by one the other great verities 
which it logically calls for, to be made completely 
definite and reasonable. 




The question of personal immortality does not 
strike the contemporary man as of great practical 
importance. "One world at a time" is a quite 
prevalent expression of his every-day attitude 
toward it. His life is planned upon the certainties 
of this world rather than upon conjectures about 
a world to come. For, it must be confessed that, 
to the man of to-day, immortality is largely con- 
jectural. In idle hours it is a pleasing speculation, 
in which, moreover, any one may engage with equal 
authority; it is a faith to be encouraged in churches 
and at the last rites for the dead; but in life as we 
live it, it is not a serious problem. So, as Wells 
says, "active and capable men of all forms of re- 
ligious profession to-day tend in practice to disre- 
gard the question of immortality altogether." x 

The contemporary man is probably under a mis- 
apprehension. I think it can be shown that it does 
make a vast difference to our practical concerns 
if it happens that death is surely the end of them, 
or if it can be shown that it is as surely not the end 
of them. Any man, as soon as he thinks seriously 

1 H. G. Wells, Anticipations, p. 343. 



knows this as truly as he knows that it would make 
a practical difference should he learn that his life 
here on earth would certainly end to-morrow. Im- 
mortality would make an infinitely greater differ- 
ence. The real reason why immortality does not 
practically concern the man of to-day is that he 
is quite convinced that the question cannot be 
solved. Unsolvable questions are not questions a 
sensible man, even if he be religious, can build his 
daily life upon, whatever he may aspire to on Sun- 

In all this we hardly realize how much our age 
differs from certain other conspicuous ages of the 
world's history, — ages that possessed a positive be- 
lief in a life after death and built their civilizations 
upon it. There have been signally great men, pre- 
eminent logicians of their times, who have been sure 
of it, such as Plato, Leibnitz and Kant; and great 
eras when nearly every human institution was 
touched by this vision, made certain by a great re- 
ligion, a great art, or a great philosophy. But even 
if the contemporary man fully realized the revolu- 
tion in the attitude toward death which the world 
has undergone, he would doubtless reply that such 
great ages and men either believed without proof, 
or that they accepted evidence which the more 
critical modern mind cannot regard as conclusive. 

Undoubtedly, on so important a matter, if it is 
to be made of truly practical significance, the mod- 
ern is not to be satisfied with a vague hope or a sen- 



timental faith. This is an age of certitude. If there 
is to be any genuine revival of interest in the ques- 
tion of immortality, it must be motived by a con- 
viction that the problem can be actually solved in 
some measure, and in an honest, straightforward 
way, without logical juggling; and especially with 
due regard for all the facts which present-day 
science accepts as true. And, again, the man of to- 
day is intensely doubtful that any such attempt will 
lead to anything definite. 

The man of to-day may be right. But it does no 
harm to look at the evidence quite critically and to 
see just where it logically leads. In doing so, we 
should bear in mind that there are only four pos- 
sible answers to the question, Are we immortal! We 
must conclude either that we are; or, that we are 
not; or, that we cannot know; or, that at any rate 
we do not know. Later I will show that it makes 
all the practical difference in the world to our lives 
and to our common civilization just which of these 
answers we finally are forced to accept. 

A little while ago, in a hotel lobby, I chanced to 
hear a discussion concerning human immortality. 
The conclusion of the whole matter was summarized 
by a remark of one of the group, uttered with an 
air of finality: "I tell you, when all is said and 
done, we die just as a dog dies ; and that is all there 



is to it." Just then, I ventured to interfere with 
the question, "Will you tell me just what happens 
to a dog when it dies?" The genial spokesman, 
whom I happened to know, had the fairness to let 
my query trouble him a little. But what he meant 
to convey was quite clear, and a common convic- 
tion, namely, that when our bodies die, it is the 
end of us. 

I mention this incident because it is a distinc- 
tively modern tendency of men touched by science 
to obliterate the distinction between mind and mat- 
ter, between the so-called natural and spiritual 
worlds, and to reduce mind to body. Mind or soul 
tends more and more to be regarded as a function 
of bodily states ; or, in some sense, a physical phe- 
nomenon. Partly, this is the result of the prevalent 
scientific passion to simplify phenomena. Mostly, 
it is the result of the popularization of modern ex- 
perimental psychology; especially the result of its 
emphasis upon the dependence of our mental states 
upon what goes on in our physical brains and nerv- 
ous systems. Psychologists find no minds anywhere 
apart from bodies, and it seems clear to many that 
every mental event is determined by some bodily 
cause. The very elements of our mental life, name- 
ly, our sensations, we obtain through our bodily 
sense organs. Such subtle and seemingly spiritual 
things as our power to remember, our most sacred 
emotions, the habits that make character, are quite 
closely identified with bodily changes. More and 



more, idiocy and crime, which once were considered 
spiritual defects, have come to be looked upon as dis- 
eases of the physical brain, to be treated largely 
by physical means. At length, mental functions 
have been so accurately localized in the brain that 
detailed maps have been made of them; and brain 
surgery has actually made it possible to mend the 
mind by mending the tissues of the head! Com- 
pare the mental equipment of men and of the lower 
animals, or of different races of men. You will find 
it correlated with the size, shape, and character of 
their physical brains. What, then, is more certain 
than that since a mind or soul is found only with 
a physical body, develops with it, changes with it, 
this same mind or soul is really only a finer physi- 
cal phenomenon and ceases to exist when the body 

I do not assert that the modern psychologist him- 
self actually draws this conclusion. Most, if not all 
psychologists, hold aloof from such a sweeping in- 
ference as either unwarranted, or as utterly outside 
their province. But most people acquainted with 
the modern correlation of mental states with bodily 
states feel themselves inevitably led to the belief 
that the mind is the brain, or is so dependent upon 
it that the mind must perish with the body. Such a 
materialistic view of mind is no new thing. Be- 
fore the Christian era, Lucretius, the Roman poet, 
sang that the soul comes to life with the body, 
grows with the body, and dies with the body, so that 



in old age, just as one would expect, judgment fal- 
ters and speech and thought both wander; the old 
age of the body is the beginning of the death of all 
we are. 

Yet, while many moderns who are thus convinced 
that mind is only another form of matter see no 
other conclusion than that we perish with our bod- 
ies, there are current at least three desperate and 
yet fairly popular attempts to prove some sort of 
immortality within this conception. 

The first attempt starts by reminding us that 
after all, even for science, there is such a thing as 
immortality, since science admits that "noth- 
ing perishes. " Certainly, science is willing to assent 
to this, calling the truth by various names, such as 
the "indestructibility of matter" or the "conserva- 
tion of energy." But when we examine the signifi- 
cance of this truth further, we find that what it 
means is not that no thing perishes, but that all 
things perish, except matter, or energy. What con- 
ceivable encouragement to the hope of immortality 
is it to be told this? Does it solace me to be in- 
formed that although all particular forms of mat- 
ter pass away, including myself, yet matter itself 
still persists? Has such an "immortality" any 
practical significance whatever? Is it not rather 
a ghastly jest to one who is looking for a ground of 
hope? This first attempt fails. 

The second attempt, while frankly admitting that 
individuals pass away, calls our attention to the 



fact that, in any event, the race survives. Men 
die, but Man remains. We can live in posterity, 
passing on our thoughts and deeds, our sciences and 
arts and social institutions to future generations, 
through which we live again in a progress that 
never ceases. We die; but the race is immortal. 
To wish it otherwise is merely to indulge our self- 
ishness. To accept it is to be at once scientific and 
creditably big-minded. This view of immortality 
has been beautifully expressed in the familiar lines 
of George Eliot : 

Oh may I join the choir invisible 

Of those immortal dead who live again 

In minds made better by their presence. 

The answer to this worthy aspiration is, first, 
that no scientist ever presumed to prove that the 
human race is immortal, that it will remain on earth 
forever, still less its progress to everlastingly 
higher things. The reply of the typical scientist 
is likely to run thus: "We have not sufficient evi- 
dence to tell you how long the human race will 
last. If you press the question, we are quite cer- 
tain that it will not last forever. Species are con- 
stantly changing and passing away. There is no 
proof that any kind of life will continue on earth 
always. So far from assuring you of the race's 
immortality, we cannot even assure you that any 
race, new or old, will be here after a long time." 
Another refutation of the attempt before us is that 



the immortality of the race is not the kind of im- 
mortality men seek when they ask, Are we immor- 
tal? The immortality that has moral significance 
for men, and which we are discussing, is the im- 
mortality of individuals, which gives them an ever- 
lasting chance of individual progress. So, the sec- 
ond attempt fails. It claims to be scientific and 
unselfish; yet, as we see, it is not scientific; and 
any view that annihilates the self that holds it is an 
unselfishness that contradicts itself. 

The third attempt is the attempt of modern spir- 
itualism, or spiritism. The objection will at once 
be raised that the consideration of spiritualism does 
not properly fit in this place because we are still 
supposed to be dealing with the views of those who 
hold that mind can be reduced to matter. But I 
hasten to call attention to the fact that although 
speaking of "spirits," spiritualism never actually 
deals with anything but material evidences, mate- 
rial manifestations, phenomena that appeal to the 
senses, such as audible rappings and voices, visible 
writings and phantasms, tactual and other sensa- 
tions, requiring physical stimuli, and immediately 
evidencing only a physical object. It does no good 
to say that the soul is a "finer" matter or an "as- 
tral" body; it is matter and body still, and no spirit 
is discovered yet. If it is held that while not them- 
selves spiritual, these phenomena are "manifesta- 
tions" or "materializations" of something that is 
spiritual, the whole question is begged. The mere 



presence of a finer body after death does not prove 
the existence of a spirit any more than the pres- 
ence of a coarser body before death proves the 
existence of a spirit. Equally in both cases, one 
has inferred something one has not found; for 
every item of the phenomena is something that 
appears to sense, which is another way of saying 
that it is a physical thing. And if it is a physical 
thing, it is subject to the laws of matter and perishes 
sooner or later with all material forms. Spiritual- 
ists sometimes lament that science neglects the 
data of spiritualism and of " psychic research." 
Well, on the the face of it, this is to insist that 
spiritualistic phenomena are actually accessible to 
scientific method, which is to say that they are of 
the character of the phenomena with which science 
may properly deal, namely, physical. Psychical re- 
search has indeed uncovered many interesting facts, 
to which reputable scientists might well pay more 
serious attention. But in all this array of spir- 
itualistic events, science could never come upon a 
soul or spirit. For such events as spiritualism 
deals with are ever in matter's world of space and 
time, express themselves through matter, as when 
they speak or rap, and are thus so far only a form 
of matter. So I insist upon classifying spiritualism 
under the attempts to prove immortality within the 
limits of the identification of mind and body. It 
makes no difference of how "fine" matter the 
spirit of the spiritualists is made, it is still matter. 



But, one may say, what of that? If some form 
of the self, whether a finer matter or not, survives 
the body, does not spiritualism make its point 
good? The answer is, "No"; not if the point to 
be proved is that we are immortal. For the most 
that is proved by any or all spiritualistic evi- 
dence is that we contimie for some time after death. 
It offers no proof whatever that the continuance is 
everlasting. Indeed, since the continuance is of 
matter, albeit a finer matter, it is the continuance 
of something all of whose forms perish at last in 
their very nature. For science knows no material 
forms or individuals that can possibly retain their 
integrity forever. And spiritualism appeals to the 
consideration of science. 

It is pertinent to remark here that granting that 
spiritualistic phenomena prove our continuance 
after death for a little or a great while, it reveals 
a life that few of us would care to live, or care to 
have our friends live. Here, of course, we are 
upon treacherous ground; for whatever spiritualist 
I cite, many of the rest are likely to say that I 
happen to have chosen some of the less credible 
evidences. It seems, however, to be a quite com- 
mon belief among spiritualists that spirits may be 
summoned from the other world to communicate 
with this. Such summonses are quite frequent, 
especially for well-known men. I wonder how often 
the spirit of Shakespeare has been summoned 
since he died. If he has appeared one hundredth 



as often as he has been said to appear, he must be 
heartily weary of it. And yet, he seems to 
have no way of avoiding it. And when the 
great dead communicate with us, how their mas- 
tery of thought and language has deteriorated! 
The Byron that wrote Childe Harold now writes 
drivel. Some of us have seen it, and we are sorry 
for him; and we do not want to be in an environ- 
ment that affects one that way; and certainly, we 
do not wish to be called from our spiritual labors 
at any time of the day or night to answer foolish 
questions foolishly. 

At any rate, the third attempt fails. Accepting 
all the phenomena of spiritualism, one finds that 
such "facts" do not and cannot prove immortality 
in any sense; that they do not even prove the ex- 
istence of "spirits"; and that to call the results 
"spiritualism," or "spiritism," is an obvious mis- 

The three attempts to prove immortality with- 
in materialistic presuppositions are futile. That 
is, we may as well frankly confess that within the 
realm of natural science there is no such thing as 
demonstrating the immortality of human selves. 
With physical science, it is only matter, or energy, 
together with its laws that may be said to last 
endlessly. I am not sure that science actually 
proves even this; but at any rate, this is the ut- 
most limit of its assumptions concerning the ques- 
tion. All else passes away, has a beginning and 



an end. If all we are is physical — and this is 
all that science can deal with — Diihring is right; 
there is no basis of consciousness except the body, 
and an individual consciousness is merely a spe- 
cific combination of atoms of which death is the 
dissolution. If matter is all we are, then we share 
the fate of all the forms of matter, expressed with 
such melancholy grandeur so long ago: 

The cloud-capp 'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all that it inherit, shall dissolve 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. 

Or, as a famous Christian saint said long before, 
"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of 
God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. " 


So far, we have at least found where not to look 
for a proof of immortality. If only we would ac- 
cept science's word for it, and cease trying to 
prove immortality within science's limits, and de- 
sist from contorting its conclusions to our cher- 
ished desires, it would be better for us and for the 
truth. But in abandoning any hope of a proof with- 
in science, it is absolutely essential to realize an- 
other fact equally true; namely, that while science 
cannot prove immortality, neither can science dis- 
prove it, — unless, indeed, science also proves beyond 



doubt that it can successfully reduce everything we 
are, including our minds, to our bodies. Once that 
were done, our whole question would be solved by 
science, and solved forever in the negative. In all 
ages when mind and body have been identified or 
confused, immortality has not been an issue, as in 
the early schools of Greek philosophy. Later, with 
Socrates and Plato, the problem becomes acute ; and 
note that at the same time the mind and the body 
become sharply distinguished. So, before we pro- 
ceed any further it will be well for us to ask a lit- 
tle more critically whether the only modern science 
that deals with such matters, namely psychology, 
has succeeded in reducing our minds to our brains, 
our mental states to our physical states, our souls 
to our bodies. If it has done this conclusively, it is 
folly to go further with our discussion. Individual 
immortality is then definitely disproved. Certainly, 
the body is not immortal. 

There is an astonishingly wide impression that 
just this is the verdict of modern experimental 
psychology; or, in any event, that all its evidence 
thus far points in this one direction. We have 
casually referred to this evidence before. We must 
face it fairly now. 

In so far as psychology is a science — and few 
will question that it is — it attempts the explanation 
of mental events through reference to what happens 
in the body. Concerning just what is the real rela- 
tion of mental states to bodily states, many psychol- 



ogists have nothing to say. So far as they have 
anything to say, they have tended to divide into 
two great schools, the Interactionists and the Paral- 

The names well suggest the doctrines. The In- 
teractionists assert that bodily and mental events 
cause one another. The evidence of this is so 
voluminous that one can select only a few instances. 
Speaking of the relations between the supply of 
blood to the brain and the states of consciousness, 
Ladd reminds us that "a slight increase of this 
circulation, resulting from a small quantity of alco- 
hol or other drugs, or from the hearing of inter- 
esting news, produces an increased speed in the 
mental train. Reaction-time is found to vary with 
changes in the circulation. In the delirium of fever 
the wild and quickly-moving condition of the 
thoughts, fancies, and sensations is a direct expres- 
sion of the kind of work which is going on, be- 
cause of the accelerated heartbeat and the dis- 
ordered character of the blood within the cerebral 
arteries. . . . The character of dreams is deter- 
mined, to a considerable extent, by the position of 
the head and the way in which this position affects 
the cranial circulation. Hallucinations not infre- 
quently are immediately made to cease when the 
person having them assumes the standing posture, 
or has leeches applied to the head." On the other 
hand, the mind's causal influence upon the body is 
seen even in its effect upon "the nutrition of tis- 



sues, the circulation of the blood," and in general 
upon "the healthy or diseased nature of the vital 
processes." The causal relation works both ways, 
from body to mind and from mind to body. To 
quote Ladd again in a characteristic passage: 
"If abnormal digestion produces melancholy, it is 
equally true that melancholy causes bad digestion. 
.... Irregular action of the heart, caused by or- 
ganic defect or weakness, occasions a feeling of in- 
describable alarm in the soul; fear is followed, 
through the action of the mind upon the nervous 
centers, by functional incapacity of the heart. The 
impure condition of the arterial blood which is 
characteristic of certain diseases brings about a 
chronic state of mental lassitude or anxiety; care, 
chagrin, and ennui poison the arterial blood. The 
lesion of the cortical substance produced by a grow- 
ing abscess or broken blood-vessel impairs the mind's 
powers of sensation and thought; excessive thought 
and overexcited feeling wear away the brain." 2 
Such are some of the facts that make the position of 
the Interactionist plausible. We shall see later 
what bearing such a position has on the question 
of reducing our minds to our bodies. 

Although vigorously differing from the Interac- 
tionist in many respects, most of the other psychol- 
ogists, represented by Parallelism, still thoroughly 
agree that there can be no explanation of mental 

'George Trumbull Ladd and Kobert Sessions Woodworth, Elements 
of Physiological Psychology, pp. 643-645. Charles Scribner's Sons, 
New York. 



states save through bodily states. They are, in 
genera], willing to accept all the facts given by the 
Interactionist to prove his theory; only they insist 
that such facts taken by themselves do not prove 
Interactionism at all. Bring forward all the facts 
you please, such as I have just quoted, to show that 
mental events are always related to bodily events; 
the question still remains, says the Parallelist, 
whether they really cause one another. Let us re- 
sort to an illustration ; the number-series will afford 
us one. Write down the odd numbers in a. row, 
1-3-5 and on indefinitely. Then, under each odd 
number in order, write the even numbers, 2-4-6 
and on indefinitely. What is the result 1 ? You have 
two parallel series of numbers, for every odd num- 
ber of which, written above, you have an even num- 
ber in the series below. Here they are : 

13 5 7 9 11 13 15 17 19 21 etc. 
2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 22 etc. 

Given any specific odd number in the series, you 
have a specific even number; and given any even 
number, you have a specific odd number. But just 
because there is an even number occurring every 
time an odd number occurs, do the odd numbers 
cause the even numbers? Does 3, for instance, 
cause 4? No, these are parallel series, but not caus- 
ally related series. So, says the Parallelist, are 
the two streams of events called our mental and 
bodily states. Every mental state involves a bod- 



ily state; but that in itself does not prove that the 
two streams of events are causally related, — that the 
body is the cause of events in the mind. If we are 
critical, this is a matter for further consideration. 
In short, all the facts adduced for Interaction may 
be accepted, and yet one need not interpret the 
facts as the Interactionist does. If a mental state, 
then a bodily state ; if a bodily state, then a mental 
state; this is as far as the facts go, granting they 
go even this far ; but this is by no means saying that 
because a mental state, a bodily state, or the re- 
verse. No causal relation or interdependence of 
body and mind is proved by merely showing that 
they are related. The bow and the cord are " useless 
each without the other"; but the one does not cause 
the other. 

Fortunately for us, we are not compelled to de- 
cide the famous and never-ending debate between 
these two great schools, for the supreme fact for us 
is that by neither is mind successfully reduced to 
matter. Both, indeed, agree that for psychology 
there can be no mental states without bodies. But 
because there can be no mind without a body does 
not prove that the mind is the body, — not a whit 
more than because one cannot have a sea without a 
shore, the sea is the shore ! Further, this is not a 
mere logical subtlety, but is the actual verdict of 
most expert psychologists themselves, no matter to 
what school they may belong. Even the Interaction- 
ist most frequently hastens to say that even granting 



that consciousness is a different sort of thing from 
the body, one can still have a causal relation be- 
tween them. This is to insist that to assert a causal 
relation between body and mind does not in the least 
decide what is the nature of mind. That is left an 
open question. So, both Interactionist and Paral- 
lelist agree with what we are here contending for, — 
that psychology need not and does not reduce the 
mind to the body, no matter how much they may 
refer to the latter in explaining the former. Even 
if one hold that mental and physical states are two 
sides of the same thing, one admits by this very con- 
tention that there are two sides. To hold this is not 
to imply that the mental is reduced to the physical 
any more than that the physical is reduced to the 
mental. The sides are just as opposed to one an- 
other as two sides of anything always are. 

And finally it is most pertinent to remark here, 
for the benefit of those who think that the evidence 
of science is against the immortality of the self, that 
modern psychology itself insists that it does not 
deal with selves or souls or minds at all, mortal or 
immortal. It deals with mental states as they come 
and go, and only with these. It never even asks if 
there be a mind or soul or self, to which these 
mental states might be said to "belong." This is 
a query it considers beyond its concerns. 

It is abundantly clear, then, that the popular no- 
tion that science identifies mind and body, or mind 
and matter, is mistaken. We may now return with 



increased certainty to our former conclusion that 
no science, not even psychology, can give us any 
answer whatever concerning human immortality; 
nor does it prejudice the possibility of it by re- 
ducing all that we are to our physical bodies. If 
anything, we are led to be more predisposed than 
before to the conviction that our bodies are not all 
we are. For it is an absolute surety that if science 
could possibly have reduced our mental states to our 
physical states, it would have done so long ago in 
the interests of scientific simplicity. But in this 
it has utterly failed. This failure proves nothing 
final, but it gives us hope. 


We have been showing all along how difficult it is 
to reduce mind to matter. Let us add now that it is 
actually much easier to reduce matter to mind, 
strange as this may seem. 

First of all, it is easier for you to deny the ex- 
istence of your body than the existence of your 
mind. How is that? Well, suppose you deny that 
your mind really exists; do you not see that you 
are at once guilty of a contradiction 1 ? For if you 
deny that your mind exists, you are forgetting that 
it is your very mind (supposedly nonexistent!) that 
makes this denial. So your very denial proves what 
you deny. In other words, to deny your mind's ex- 
istence is a contradiction and an absurdity. No 



such contradiction is involved in denying that the 
body is real. If either mind or matter taken by it- 
self is the sole reality, we will find it logically easier 
to choose mind. And strange as is this position to 
the average person of common sense, most great 
thinkers from the dawn of history to the present 
day have taken it. The great Plato, ''the bible of 
the learned for twenty- two hundred years," held 
that only ideas are finally real, and that mere mat- 
ter is an illusion. Aristotle maintains at bottom the 
same thing in another way. It is the vital message 
of those we call the great idealists, from ancient 
Greece to modern America, — of Leibnitz, of Berke- 
ley, of Fichte, of Hegel, of Royce, who reach the 
same conclusion by very different highways of 
thought. And if the average man insists that all 
these men were merely dreamers, impractical, away 
from such scientific currents of thought as mark the 
rigid logic of the twentieth century, I remind him 
that some of the most eminent scientific men of our 
day hold that even science, when critically viewed, 
never actually gets to such a thing as ''matter"; 
that it gets no further than the mental states that 
we call our "sensations." Its laws are laws merely 
of a world of such sensations, beyond which we 
cannot go to some mysterious substrate called "mat- 
ter" or "energy." No, such entities are regarded 
as mere hypotheses, assumed for the sake of simpli- 
fying scientific procedure. 

The reader may consult any or all of these great 



thinkers for himself. The one fact that arrests the 
attention of them all, as it must arrest the atten- 
tion of any man, is that while we know our minds 
directly (since to know at all is to know with a 
mind), we know matter only indirectly, through the 
mind. That is, our consciousness is something we 
directly experience ; but any matter, outside of con- 
sciousness, we only infer; and, further, to make the 
inference convincing is a difficult logical task. 

In other words, if one adheres to strict logic, and 
if to be mortal is to reduce mind to body, the 
harder thing to prove is not that we are immortal, 
but that we are mortal! Not that we have minds, 
but that we have bodies! For our bodies are in- 
ferences of our minds, known only through our 
minds, which, not being physical, are beyond the 
physical conditions of death. Yes, it is far easier 
to reduce body to mind than mind to body. The 
challenge ought not to be to prove that we are un- 
dying but to prove that we could possibly perish! 


There are ways of proving immortality, many 
of them, of which the average man is not likely 
to be aware for the simple reason that the whole 
problem is a very technical one, and to master 
the reasoning involved requires years of train- 
ing and abundant patience. Here we face an 
anomaly. The average man of culture is not at 



all surprised if you tell him that to solve the 
problems of calculus requires considerable prepara- 
tion in the technical foundations of the subject. 
This is exactly what he expects, and he does not 
demur. But when you tell him that to solve the 
problem of immortality means a mastery of com- 
plex factors, which cannot be gained without ardu- 
ous intellectual labor, he somehow feels that you 
are merely getting ready to blind his judgment 
with logical subtleties so that you may prove any- 
thing you please. Men would not think of debating 
a problem of thermodynamics without preparation 
in all the technicalities involved; but when the in- 
finitely more abstruse problem of the nature of a 
mind and the leng-th of its continuance is broached, 
all men suddenly think that they speak with equal 
knowledge and authority. 

The average man himself, upon reflection con- 
cerning even a few of the factors that the problem 
implies, must admit that such an attitude is un- 
reasonable and extremely unfavorable to any prof- 
itable discussion of the subject. Such an attitude 
is born of the same dogmatism as leads so many 
men to assume that "modern science disproves im- 
mortality" without in the least investigating what 
science is, what is its region of search, what sort 
of truth its methods actually attain, and what its 
leading exponents really have to say on the problem. 
I have tried to do away with this particular dogma- 
tism by an appeal to the logic of the facts. This 



other dogmatism that assumes the simplicity of the 
problem of immortality, and the equal authority of 
every man to dispose of it offhand, I could easily 
dissipate by a straightforward appeal to the ex- 
treme difficulty of the facts. 

Avoiding such technical matters as this would 
call for, I merely pause by the way to remark that 
many of the great arguments for immortality are 
attempts to prove that there is an aspect of our 
real selves that is either spaceless, or timeless, or 
both. Such arguments become very intricate, and I 
shall not lay stress upon them here. Still, every 
man ought to know that if things were not in Space 
and -Time, they could not possibly perish. For the 
decay and death of any object is at least a process 
involving spatial changes in the parts of the ob- 
ject, a spatial dissolution of the parts; and this 
change also takes time, and the moment of death 
itself is a moment in Time. It follows as abso- 
lutely certain that if any reality could be proved to 
be without the limitations of either Space or Time, 
it could not die; a spaceless being could have no 
spatial dissolution of its parts, and a timeless be- 
ing could have no such thing as a time when it 
ended. Since death is an event in Time, it could 
never occur in a timeless world. The argument be- 
comes complete when it is shown that the nature of 
our consciousness is such that it cannot be thought 
of as spatial (have thoughts any size?) or temporal. 
For if consciousness is either spaceless or timeless, 



one of the logical conditions of death is annihilated 
and death simply cannot happen to it. If the human 
self is primarily of the nature of consciousness, 
it is immortal. It cannot pass away with the body. 

All such arguments for immortality have their 
merit. Logically, when fully understood, they make 
immortality more probable than not. But I have 
yet to find the man who is convinced by them. There 
is always the lurking suspicion that some flaw could 
be discovered in such arguments if only one were 
expert enough; and the average man, far from 
achieving any real moral faith by such " proofs," 
is likely to be led to a sort of helpless bewilder- 
ment and despair if not to downright skepticism. If 
these proofs were the only ones to offer, this chap- 
ter would never have been written. They have 
been mentioned at all only to convince those who 
are sure that they are loyal citizens of an age of 
reason that immortality cannot be so lightly denied 
as many persons superficially and summarily deny 

I now come to the proof that to me is most con- 
vincing; the only proof, too, that is likely to con- 
vince the man impatient of philosophical subtleties, 
and yet earnestly seeking a reasonable hope and 
faith that does not violate either science or common 
sense. This proof frankly depends upon our suc- 



cess in showing that without immortality our lives 
would be manifestly and absurdly inconsistent and 
unreasonable. It is in accordance with the method of 
proof outlined in the preceding chapter, — the proof 
of all truths we live by. In this proof it must be 
shown that the chance of immortal personal devel- 
opment is the only hypothesis that gives the world 
any sure meaning; that, otherwise, life is a mockery, 
a contradiction, whose values are shattered and 
made vain. After such a proof, the arguments 
that I have heretofore mentioned may become im- 
portant adjuncts, and so be raised to a worth they 
do not have by themselves. 

The argument with which we are now concerned 
is not based merely upon that great mass of facts 
which forms the region of what is called science. In 
the last chapter I think I showed conclusively that 
there is another realm of truth that has always been 
recognized as having at least equal importance with 
the mere enumeration and classification of endless 
facts; it is the truth that shows of what use these 
facts are. Man is forever face to face with things 
as they are on the one hand, and with things as 
they ought to be on the other; not only with facts, 
but with something more, namely, what shall be 
done with the facts; in other words, what ideals 
they shall be made to serve. Now, the important 
thing to see is that these ideals are just as real as 
the facts. Science does not deal with them at all; 
but man certainly and continuously recognizes them, 



acts in terms of them, fights for them, dies for them. 
These ideals are, after all, the fundamental realities 
of life, in terms of which the progress of civiliza- 
tion is ever judged. Beyond all the facts that we 
know, we seek what is not yet accomplished, an 
ideal, not a fact. For instance, beyond the great 
body of truth we have reached we seek the truth 
that does not yet exist, that is not yet a fact; so, 
too, beyond all the goodness we observe in ourselves 
and in one another we seek the goodness that is not 
yet, which is not yet a fact, but an ideal; and, 
again, beyond all the imperfect beauty that nature 
gives and man has made we seek a beauty that was 
never yet on sea or land, not yet a fact ; but, never- 
theless a stubborn reality that will not be gainsaid, 
an ideal of the human spirit. That is, we live not 
for facts primarily, but for ideals primarily; the 
ideals in terms of which it is our task to use and mold 
all the facts that science can give. These ideals for 
whose use all facts are found and cherished are, 
in turn, the most important things of our lives. 
And any ultimate proof of anything, including im- 
mortality, must surely take strict account of them as 
the most unquestioned things we know. No logic 
that is serious can ever ignore them. 

It is well to point out again that the justification 
of science itself and its enterprise rests upon its 
acceptance of such ideals, which science ever serves, 
but never creates. "We have found that science 's so- 
called ultimate laws, as the Law of Universal Causa- 



tion, is considered proved if it is proved necessary 
to render science possible; but science, in turn, is 
justified only as it is proved to contribute to those 
ideals of life that men insist upon. Yes, the ultimate 
reality of all realities is the ideals we fight for; 
otherwise, there would be no struggle upward, scien- 
tific or any other. Let it be known once for all, we 
struggle not primarily for facts, but for purposes; 
not for laws of biology or physics, but for the val- 
ues these serve so well. All our loyalties, all our 
heroisms, all our progress, are based upon such su- 
preme values; never upon mere facts unillumined 
by purposes that give them worth. 

So it is our fundamental ideals that finally give 
the world any consistent meaning. When we men 
do things in the face of struggle and sacrifice, we do 
them on the assumption that our human purposes 
are, in some measure, capable of molding the world 
of facts to the image of the heart's desire; that our 
wills are not determined in the last resort even by 
reason, although they shall be forever reasonable; 
but that even our reasoning is a means of attaining 
the purposes of our desire and will. So it is that 
the key to the understanding of reality, as human 
beings must conceive it, is to be found in a care^- 
ful study of the inalienable purposes of the will 
that make man what he is. An easy way to make 
this plain is to refer to what we understand as 
evolution, since we have faith in that at least. The 
presupposition of all evolution is "the will to live," 



which every living thing possesses, sometimes called 
"the struggle for existence/' or "the instinct for 
self-preservation. ' ' Now, this will or purpose to live 
can never he accounted for by evolution itself; it is 
not to be derived by any possible means from the 
"natural selection" of a "favorable variation"; for 
the will to live is presupposed before evolution can 
be conceived to start. That is, the desire for life 
is the fundamental truth back of all life's meaning. 
And now, further, evolution has to presuppose not 
merely the desire to live, to exist; but something 
more, the desire for a certain kind of life. Other- 
wise, evolution would have no direction, no continu- 
ous trend of a certain character, which all evolution 
certainly manifests. That is, evolution is not simply 
the story of more and more life, but of definite de- 
velopments towards specific sorts of life; the desire 
for life is not only a matter of quantity, but of 
quality. Men — even some of the lower animals in 
crises — actually prefer to die than to continue in 
certain "kinds of existence that defeat this more or 
less blind desire. Thus martyrs. Thus such a 
heroic cry as "liberty or death." 

The unsolved question is, What kind of life does 
the very struggle for life involve, especially on the 
part of human beings, with whom we are now con- 
cerned! Is this question answerable? And then, 
granting an answer, the final and crucial question 
becomes very clear, namely this, Is this sort of life 
that man in his ultimate nature demands such as 



inextricably involves immortality? If so, then im^ 
mortality is justified just as surely as science is 
justified. For even science is finally justified only 
through showing that it is necessary for life as 
the human spirit undefeatedly desires to live it! 
Let us consider, then, very carefully the meaning 
of this human struggle for life. 

It is indubitable, is it not, that an inevitable part 
of our human struggle for life is the struggle for 
truth. Certainly, a large part of human endeavor 
through all history has been prompted by this de- 
sire. Of it have been born all the philosophy and 
science that mark the progress of mankind. I think 
it is Ruskin who says, * ' Where the search for truth 
begins, there life begins ; where the search for truth 
ceases, there life ceases." Not only the history of 
mankind in general, but our own individual spirits 
testify to this desire. Not a man that does not de- 
sire knowledge, either as revealed in his more or 
less blind gropings, or in a conscious and willing 
search for it. The next question is, Just how much 
of truth does the human spirit desire? How much 
would satisfy it? Surely there is no limit to the 
amount of truth man desires, is there? Ever at 
the end of his search, urging him on through count- 
less ages, is the whole of truth. 

Still we say as we go, 
Strange to think by the way, 
Whatever there is to know, 
That we shall know one day. 



No mere fragment of truth, however bold, will 
satisfy us. Indeed, we know that the universe of 
truth is so interrelated that to know anything truly 
is to know all truly. At the end of man's search is 
the ideal of all the truth there is, in terms of which 
he judges all imperfect truth as indeed imperfect, 
and so not wholly satisfactory. 

Then, there is no doubt whatever, is there, that we 
men, when we know ourselves, find that an inevitable 
part of our human struggle for life is the struggle 
for goodness. The desire is often forgotten; but 
deep in human nature it still persists, forever as- 
serting itself, forever tormenting the human spirit 
with the sense of duty, however submerged by sin 
and error. All history is a struggle for righteous- 
ness, through many devious paths, through ever so 
many defeats that can never quite kill the longing 
for the good that is not, but that ought to be. Of 
it are born all prophets and their reforms; in its 
name, however mistaken, the millions have battled 
on fields of honor, in the forum, in their own hearts. 
For its sake, too, men have perished with a song 
on their lips. Blot out the search, and the chief 
theme of civilization is banished forever. And now 
again, how much goodness will satisfy the human 
spirit! How good must a man become rightfully 
to say, "I am now good enough; now ends my 
search"? Surely there is no limit here! And yet 
until the limit is reached, no goodness is fully good ; 
it is partial, defective. At the end of the search 



for the good is the goodness that has no lack, in 
terms of which we judge all imperfect goodness as 
indeed imperfect, and so not wholly satisfactory. 

And the human struggle for life has been — shall I 
say inevitably? — a struggle for beauty, too. Has 
not the search for beauty been characteristic of 
man from the first crude commencement of his 
recorded life? Groping for its expression, even 
the lowest tribes of men instinctively adorn them- 
selves. It has been said that the wearing of jewelry 
is the last relic of barbarism; but it has been better 
said that it is, rather, the first trace of civilization. 
Stronger and subtler grows this desire for the 
beautiful as the ages pass. More and more regions 
of life are brought under its sway as culture ex- 
pands. Art is long, but it is sure, for it is the ex- 
pression of man's fundamental demand for life in 
its beauty, that fashions mere stone into temples 
and statues, mere sounds into music and melodious 
speech, mere paint into pictures, and articulate 
thought into literature. The passionate search for 
beauty is as signal as the search for truth and good- 
ness. And now again, how much beauty? Is there 
any limit to the dream? How beautiful does man, 
the creator, desire to make his temple, his painting, 
his poem, his song, his world? There is no final 
satisfaction for him short of the beauty that knows 
no defect, in terms of which we judge all that is im- 
perfectly beautiful as indeed imperfect, and so not 
wholly satisfactory. 



Every man desires these things in his heart, not 
as cold abstractions, but as personal possessions, 
as an intimate part of the struggle for his own 
life, as part of his very will to live. It is these things, 
if attained, that would fulfill the heights of his being, 
the ultimate vision of the self that he longs to be- 
come. These are the three sides of the one Ideal 
that beckons man's desire and is the key to his every 
strenuous endeavor. These things men utterly de- 
mand of life. By these things life is fashioned into 
the likene&s of man's ultimate and unconquerable 
want. We have come at last to the final and un- 
equivocal answer to the question concerning what 
kind of life the human desire for life involves. Man 
desires a life whose fulfillment would be life's per- 
fection in its Beauty, in its Goodness, and in its 
Truth. Anything less than this foils the spirit's 
quest ; to attain anything less than this is to attain 
what every man knows is short of the vision that 
makes even this less at all possible. 

Yet, less than this man ever attains in life as we 
know it. And therein lies life 's mockery, its futility. 
It is in view of the failure of man to achieve his 
dreams that a famous agnostic has said that 
| ''whether in mid-sea or 'mong the breakers of the 
farther shore, a wreck at last must mark the end 
of each and all." Our ideals are infinite; our lives 
are finite. This is man's paradox. The law of 
duty demands perfect goodness; the law of beauty 
demands its perfect vision become real; the law of 



truth calls for all the truth ; but what mau ever came | 
to the brink of the grave, even after the longest and 
most favorable of lives, with these things trium- 
phantly attained? Any one who should presume that 
he had done so would receive our pity, if not our! 

Yes, man is indeed a paradox if his will to live 
is thus a will for endless ideals that demand im- 
mortal life, and if he is nevertheless finite, defeated 
ever by death. And some, otherwise so careful to 
avoid inconsistencies in the physical world, are con- 
tent to leave man in just this monstrous contradic- 
tion. But to think thus is to fail to think. For 
reason cannot rest in a contradiction the least criti- 
cal, even for a moment. If man's imperative and 
unconquerable desire for life carries with it the 
inextricable desire for that which only the chance 
of immortal progress can give, then to conceive of 
life as rational is to conceive of it as triumphantly 
immortal. If the laws of evolution actually arise 
from and are justified by the desire to live, immor- 
tality is just as assuredly justified by that same 
desire when its full meaning is made clear. The 
only legitimate doubt would arise through success 
in proving that on some other grounds equally 
reasonable immortality is impossible. But there is 
not a single reputable scientist of modern days that 
even pretends to put forward such a proof. As 
we have seen, science leaves it an absolutely open 
question. But now, at last, in our analysis of the 



meaning of the human will to live, science's agnos- 
ticism is transcended by a reason that doggedly in- 
sists that we cannot rest in inconsistencies, and 
that we have only two choices, each perfectly plain ; 
the choice of making the fundamental facts of life 
a hopeless contradiction; or of solving the contra- 
diction by the one hypothesis that clears the prob- 
lem, the hypothesis of immortality, which at once 
compels life to emerge into a coherence that satisfies 
an insistent reason, and which gives the human 
spirit the only faith that saves it from the defeat 
of all its valor. 

The reasoning here advanced must not be con- 
fused with something that seems like it, but is very 
alien to it, namely, the pretty sentimentality that 
claims that one's immortality is a fact because one 
wishes it or desires it. This would involve the 
idiotic assumption that anything is true if any- 
body wants it to be true. It is not that because we 
do not like to die, therefore we shall not die. It 
is not that immortality is a "fond desire" or a 
" pleasing hope," as Addison puts it; or that we 
"startle at destruction." The struggle for exist- 
ence, the desire for life, the will to live, presupposed 
by all biologic evolution, is not a mere wish, or a 
pleasing hope, or a fond desire. It is an impreg- 
nable fact, pleasing or not, that no one can defy. The 
argument for immortality here advanced is that this 
very will to live, when it becomes explicit in man, 
turns out to be a will that makes fundamental de- 



mands upon life that can be no more gainsaid than 
the will to live itself. And this inalienable desire 
for life with definite characteristics involves immor- 
tality, just as it carries with it all the inevitable 
phenomena of human evolution. It is not that we 
want to be immortal; but that whether we want to 
or not, the fundamental fact of life, the will to live, 
when made logically explicit, demands immortality 
as a fact, or the will to live utterly defeats itself. 

Emerson puts the matter precipitately when he 
exclaims, "Everything is prospective, and man is 
to live hereafter." Lord Bacon implies, somewhat 
obliquely, this same mastery of death by life when 
he says that "there is no passion in the mind of 
man so weak, but it mates and masters the fear of 
death. . . . Revenge triumphs over death; love 
slights it; honor aspireth to it; grief flieth to it." 
Tennyson, seeing the utter contradiction between 
death and life, between the senseless ending of all 
and the human task that knows no end, cries aloud 
with the fine scorn of a reason that will not abdicate 
to such a paradox : 

And he, shall he — 

Who loved, who suffered countless ills, 
Who battled for the True, the Just, — 
Be blown about the desert dust, 

Or sealed within the iron hills? 

No more ? — A monster, then, a dream, 
A discord ! Dragons of the prime 
That tear each other in their slime, 

Were mellow music, matched with him! 


And Jesus, taking immortality as a matter of course, 
since as a matter of course it is involved in 
the least significant of life's spiritual ideals, does 
not feel the necessity of speaking much about what 
to him is a truism; only assuring those who sought 
his insight that "if it were not so, I would have 
told you." 

This is the sum of the whole matter : If the ideals 
that give life a meaning are real, then immortality 
is real. Otherwise, Schopenhauer's conclusion is per- 
fectly proper; the whole duty of man is to suppress 
the will to live. And that other philosophical pes- 
simist, von Hartmann, is equally right in insisting 
that it were better if the world had never come to 
be, and that the final moral imperative for a reason- 
able man is to end it all as quickly as possible. 

But men simply will not end it all. Each in his 
own way will go on struggling between birth and 
death for that Truth, that Beauty, and that Good- 
ness, whose behests lie beyond the finite years. 
Knowing it or not knowing it, man 's search is such 
that he can tolerate no last resting place. He is 
mocked by death, so death he mocks; for the in- 
finite search is all he has and all he is. And for- 
get not that it is not a matter of capricious choice, 
it is not a matter of temperament; it is a matter 
of cold logic. Cling to your ideals and you cling to 
immortality; abjure immortality and really mean 
your abjuration with all its logical involvings, and 
your ideals falter and fade and vanish; death has 



already closed over you. But death will never 
claim or convince you ; for never will you or can you 
part with what makes you what you are in your 
infinite significance. 


We must be very careful not to attempt to achieve 
more than we have a right to achieve by our 
premises; and yet we must be just as careful to 
claim the full significance of what we can attain by 
them. Some things that we would like to know about 
immortality we must regard as subject to mere 
speculation and guess ; other things we may regard 
as logical certainties, — that is, once we have been 
led to the one certainty without which human life 
is a contradiction. What is plainly certain about 
the further character of the immortal life is what- 
ever is logically necessary to fulfill the purposes 
that led us to believe in it. 

Thus, we cannot lose our individuality in the im- 
mortal life, for its search is precisely a search of 
each individual to fulfill the goal of truth and good- 
ness and beauty in himself. Immortality is no sea 
in which our souls are lost; for its very meaning 
as proved is to save the soul from such death ; from 
such death as loses it in a grave of spirit, as well 
as from such death as resolves it dust to dust. Of 
this we shall say more in later chapters. 

And immortality, if based upon the moral demand 



for inexpugnable ideals, can never be conceived 
as merely that we continue forever; it is not merely 
everlasting continuance, but that infinitely greater 
thing, everlasting progress; this is its only reason 
for being; this it is or nothing at all. But wait, — 
is one to progress forever? Will one never reach 
the end of his journey? Are we doomed to a search 
that never finds ? This were as much of a mockery 
as death! Mortal or immortal, then, we never 
achieve ! Well, suppose this to be true, that, mortal 
or immortal, we never finally attain the goal. 
Which would you choose: the end of all, once and 
for all, at the funeral of your body; or the chance 
forever to grow more and more into the likeness of 
your ultimate dream, even though it be ever beyond 
you, with infinite triumphs for you to achieve be- 
tween yourself as you now are and its adorable Per- 
fection? You know what Lessing said so wisely 
once, that, if he were offered on the one hand truth, 
and on the other hand the search for truth, he would 
choose the latter. Lessing knew that, truly inter- 
preted, man does not seek an end to his search, 
but the chance to seek forever, — to find more and 
more the glory of what he seeks. He is indeed finite; 
he shall never attain. Yet, he is indeed infinite, for 
his it shall be to be forever attaining. The glory 
of the perfect is to be; the glory of the imperfect 
is to do. Man is imperfect, and there is no last deed 
for him, nor can he even want to rest in quiescence 
forever. To be immortal is not to be '■* at rest ' ' ; such 



rest as death gives is only relative. To be immortal 
is to be forever finding new and better things to do ; 
it is 

To see nothing anywhere but what you may reach it and 

pass it, 
To conceive no time, however distant, but what you may 

reach it and pass it, 
To look up or down no road but it stretches and waits for 

you, however long but it stretches and waits for you, 
To see no being, not God 's or any, but you also go thither. 

No, death is not a slumber as we so often say ; to 
die is rather to awake. As Jean Paul Richter writes, 
"When we die, we shall find we have not lost our 
dreams; we have only lost our sleep." 

These things we may believe if we have a valor- 
ous faith in the logic of life and its meaning. Yet, 
to believe in immortality is not to have solved every- 
thing concerning it, any more than to believe in 
science is to solve all the problems of science. 
Nevertheless, there are many who, while believing 
in science with its incompleteness, rather absurdly 
insist that before they can believe in immortality 
they must know all about it to the minutest detail 
of speculative guess. They must know where the 
soul was before birth; how birth united it with a 
body; just what happens to the soul when death 
occurs ; whether spiritual communication is possible ; 
whether, in the life beyond this body, we shall know 
each other. These are, indeed, speculations that 
may well engage the reason and imagination of 



those who care for them, — and who does not? But 
their settlement one way or another is fortunately 
not vital to belief in immortality as a working 
hypothesis of life. What is vital is that to which 
reason has led us ; that to interpret this life consist- 
ently and logically is inevitably to come to the con- 
clusion that its purposes imply the everlasting 
chance of individual progress toward the infinite 
goal, whose search makes man what he is. 

And one thing more that illumines all the moral 
task is beyond speculation. Since the one pregnant 
thing in man's life is his will to live a certain sort 
of life that leads to specific ends whose meaning I 
have outlined ; and since evolution presupposes this 
very will to live, even in its lowest forms, man must 
regard the evolutionary process and its laws as an 
issuance of this will on which it is based, rather than 
regard his will as subordinate to evolution. Emphat- 
ically, it is not man's duty to " adjust himself to his 
environment"; nay, not even his environment to 
himself; but to adjust both himself and his environ- 
ment to his ideal of what both ought to be, according 
to the one Fact that gives both a meaning, — the Fact 
of the struggle for that existence that knows no last 
defeat and no last victory. And it is in this sense and 
in every sense that we live the immortal life now, — 
not merely after death. And it is in this sense that 
Thales, the first philosopher of Greece, could say 
so long ago, "Death does not differ at all from 




I am not at all sure how far these considerations 
are finally convincing to others. I shall be satisfied 
if, having proved that science does not and cannot 
deny immortality, I have given reasons that lead us 
to think further than the dogmatic denial or the shal- 
low indifference or the unbased skepticism which 
is prevalent among many who never viewed the 
fundamental terms of this great problem. Say, 
if you please, that we have come not upon a certain 
proof, but a proof based upon an if. That is, let the 
situation remain this : If you believe in certain 
values, ideals, you also believe in immortality. I 
further hold that you do believe in these ideals of 
Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in spite of yourself. 
You reveal it constantly. Whatever you say, when 
you live as you most approve, you live as though 
you were immortal. For the practical effects of a 
positive disbelief in immortality would be far-reach- 
ing; it would not merely shorten your moral task, 
but change the very character of your task ; that is, 
you would be compelled, if logical, to cast aside for- 
ever the ideals you actually live by. And I know 
that, whatever you say, you will not and cannot do 

And, finally, if you still doubt ; and, granting the 
fact that science leaves the question open, and, 
further, that immortality is in the least desirable, 
the final issue is simply how venturesome you are. 



Suppose that to grasp at a faith in immortality is a 
leap in the dark. Well, as Fitz James Stephen 
says, "in all important transactions of life we have 
to take a leap in the dark. ... If we decide to I 
leave the riddles unanswered, that is a choice ; if we ! 
waver in our answer, that, too, is a choice : but what- 
ever choice we make, we make it at our peril. . . . 
We stand on a mountain pass in the midst of whirl- 
ing snow and blinding mist, through which we get 
glimpses now and then of paths which may be de- 
ceptive. If we stand still we shall be frozen to death. 
If we take the wrong road we shall be dashed to j 
pieces. We do not certainly know whether there is 
any right one. What must we do? 'Be strong and 
of good courage.' Act for the best, hope for the 
best, and take what comes. ... If death ends all, 
we cannot meet death better." 3 

All nature is thus venturesome, as one of the con- 
ditions of living: 

Never quailed the swallow over sea and wilds to chase the 

summer ; 
Seeds that prisoned are, dream of and find the daylight ; 
The creature river-born, unassailed by doubt, seeks the wide 


Shall you be less than these? You, whose desires 
are not blind as are the desires of these, but il- 
lumined by a reason that defines and strengthens? 
Is it not as Poe quotes from Joseph Glanvill: "Man 
doth not yield himself to the angels, nor unto death 

3 Quoted by William James, The Will to Believe, p. 31. 



utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble 

Still, there may be some who will always think 
that a man can actually throw away the infinite de- 
sires that give life meaning and that demand im- 
mortal progress. To such, if such there be, immor- 
tality is then not only unnecessary, but impossible as 
a belief, — and impossible as an opportunity and fact. 
For such, our argument can have no worth. If im- 
mortal purposes involve immortal life, just as truly 
does immortal life involve immortal purposes. For 
such as do not see this supreme truth, Matthew 
Arnold utters this grim remonstrance, one of the 
most eloquent in meditative literature: 

No, no ! the energy of life may be 
Kept on after the grave, but not begun ; 
And he who flagg'd not in the earthly strife, 
From strength to strength advancing — only he, 
His soul well-knit, and all his battles won, 
Mounts, and that hardly, to eternal life. 



Recent literature shows a growing revival of in- 
terest in a question which is one of the oldest that 
ever challenged human reason. Is there a God? If 
so, what sort of God is He? This gravid question 
always intrudes itself at times of great crises. It 
was to be expected that, face to face with such a trag- 
edy as the world has lately experienced, the question 
would once more assert itself as a matter of serious 
significance. For a world-crisis generates the need 
of a world-view. And it happens that no world-view 
is complete without disposing in some way of the 
problem of God. 


The educated man who has freed himself from the 
set traditions of cults is likely to be rather cautious 
concerning any definite deliverance on the question. 
Intellectually, he views the whole problem some- 
what askance. Modern science has made the cultured 
man's attitude difficult. In the first place, many 
suspect that science has quite effectually disproved 
God. Others, not willing to go this far, feel that 
science still leaves room for God, — in an attenuated 



sense. But the great majority of thoughtful minds 
are divided into two classes ; those, on the one hand, 
whom science has convinced that the question is be- 
yond the limits of finite knowledge, and who feel 
that it is idle and even impious to attempt to solve 
it ; and those, on the other hand, who, although still 
clinging to the enlightenment of science, manage to 
enclose their religious lives away from their scien- 
tific interests, and in that unworldly sphere maintain 
their loyalty to ancient faiths and spiritual needs. 

It is not our concern here to discuss the problem of 
God from the standpoint of religion, or even from 
the standpoint of mere theory. Here, as elsewhere, 
we are concerned with the great verities only as they 
are inseparably related to men's practical interests, 
— only as truths to live by. The question with which 
we are face to face is whether a God is actually 
necessary to civilization when it is considered as a 
moral enterprise. The further question of His exist- 
ence then becomes part* of an intensely practical pro- 
ject, beyond all mere sentiment and abstract specu- 

It seems clear that if the attitude of the modern 
mind toward the problem of God is so largely in- 
fluenced by modern science, our first business is to 
find out just what science really has to say. Does 
science disprove God? Or, if not, does it give us a 
God in harmony with its discoveries'? Or does 
science reveal to us that the question is insoluble 1 ? 
Or, does science leave the matter an open question? 



Before one can intelligently answer these queries, 
it is essential to state exactly what we intend to 
mean when we use the word "God." For the word 
"God" can mean countless things. Not only the 
ancient Pantheon, but the modern as well, overflows 
with gods. We cannot as much as catalogue them 
here, much less attempt to find science 's attitude to- 
ward every one of them. I shall choose to mean by 
"God" what seems to me to be at the basis of most 
of the modern conceptions that go by that name. 
Amid all the differences that divide us into sects and 
religions, this much is in common, — that when we 
mention "God" we refer to a perfect being; perfect 
in the sense of possessing perfect knowledge, perfect 
power, and perfect goodness or holiness, yes, and 
perfect beauty, if such there be. I have another 
reason for defining God in this way for the purposes 
of our inquiry; the idea of God must mean at least 
these things in order to be of any moral value what- 
ever. For there are two main ways in which an idea 
of God becomes of moral use ; first, as a moral ideal 
toward which we may strive ; and second, if not this, 
at least as a power that in some way guarantees the 
final triumph of righteousness. If God is a moral 
ideal, He must be thought of as possessing the quali- 
ties of moral perfection ; perfection in knowledge, in 
goodness, in all that we found to make the immortal 
ideal of a perfect self; if, on the other hand, He is 
to be thought of as a moral guarantee, again He 
must in some way involve the same indispensable 



moral characteristics, as the very source of the 
moral order that requires them. No being save one 
that means reason, goodness, beauty, and power in 
their perfection can guarantee the triumph of such 
things in our world. 


When one asks what is the attitude of modern 
science toward such a conception of God, one is 
reasonably certain that science has nowhere discov- 
ered any such being. Not that modern science is 
atheistic; no, several kinds of gods have been 
recently offered us as being perfectly consistent with 
scientific presuppositions, and have at least been 
tolerated by many scientists. Most of these various 
conceptions may be reduced to two main types : first, 
those that make a God out of that ultimate reality 
said to be beyond scientific knowledge, the reality 
called the Unknowable ; and second, those that make 
a God out of the Totality of Things, known and un- 

No one can possibly deny that there are such reali- 
ties. Doubtless there is an absolute reality beyond 
science's limits of inquiry that is Unknowable to 
science; doubtless, too, all that exists must be 
thought of as a Totality of Things. But why call 
either reality by the name of "God"? There are 
reasons, of course. It has been customary to think 
of God as the supreme reality in the universe, so 
it is natural to name one of these realities "God" 



if it is regarded as the most important thing in the 
world. Another reason is this; science, having 
proved the absurdity of many of the traditional ideas 
of God, has been earnestly besought for something 
more than a destructive criticism of religion. And 
the best science can do is to take its largest con- 
cepts and label them "God," in answer to popular 
demand. Speaking accurately, it is not in the main 
the scientists themselves who have done this, but 
those generalizers who have gone beyond the prov- 
ince acknowledged by any science, and who have 
drawn inferences which, while not within the limits 
of strictly scientific inquiry, are at least such that 
science cannot contradict them, — which is more than 
can be said of some theologies. 

Neither God as the mere Unknowable, nor God 
as the Totality of Things has aroused much enthusi- 
asm among men. Scant religious comfort has come 
from them, and they will be found upon examination 
to possess little moral value. Whenever men have 
been deeply impressed by such ideas of God, some- 
thing has been quite unconsciously added to these 
conceptions, which, moreover, science in no way war- 
rants. The cry of a soul in dire despair u O my 
God!" can scarcely be translated into "0 my Un- 
knowable ! " or " my Totality of Things ! ' ' without 
a suspicion of absurdity. But leaving the religious 
side of the matter alone — and I am not here con- 
cerned with it — these conceptions of God cannot 
have the least moral use. For instance, neither of 



them can become the ideal of moral aspiration. No 
one seeks to become the Unknowable, or like it; or 
the Totality of Things, or anything similar to it. 
Nor can they be said to be of that other moral 
use, the guarantee of the triumph of righteousness. 
For plainly, neither of these gods can be said to be 
even good. The goodness of the Unknowable is 
surely as unknowable as anything else about it ; and 
concerning the goodness of the Totality of Things 
science can say nothing, for as has been made plain, 
it deals ever with the question of what things are, 
not with ideals of goodness, or with what things 
ought to be. Science cannot even make a God out 
of Human Progress, as some have tried to do; for 
science knows nothing of progress, but only of 
change, concerning which, just as science, it can 
make no moral judgments whatever. Any one who 
knows the self-acknowledged limits of science knows 

But while it is certain that science, within the 
limits of its search, discovers no reality that can 
truly be called "God" in the sense in which we have 
defined Him, science just as certainly gives not a 
shred of evidence to disprove such a reality. The 
most that can be said by science is that, within its 
field, it has "no use for that hypothesis." Such a 
saying once shocked religious people, who thought it 
the same as a denial of God. But such an attitude 
does not deny God, any more than a bridge-builder 
denies mental states merely because he has no use 



in his business for the hypotheses of experimental 
psychology. Truly now, just which science is it 
that deals with the problem of God? Not biology, 
surely; not chemistry; not physics ; not even psychol- 
ogy, save as the idea of God is a mental state. 
The problem is entirely outside the realm of every 
particular science. Why, science does not deal with 
the idea of Perfection at all! It does presuppose 
the ideal of completeness in the sense of a universe 
completely rational, — that is, causally interrelated. 
But no science actually finds even such completeness 
anywhere, nor does the presupposition of it mean 
moral perfection, although it does not exclude it. 
The only basis on which science can be said to dis- 
prove God is the gratuitous assumption that what- 
ever science does not or cannot prove is thereby dis- 
proved ! It is not the custom of scientists themselves 
to go this far. The critical attitude of the modern 
scientist is that while science does not prove God, 
neither does it disprove Him; nor does it even dis- 
prove the possibility of proof outside the limits of 
science, provided that no assured scientific truth is 
thereby contradicted. The cautious scientist must 
ever answer: "Just as a scientist, I am perfectly 
willing to confess that I do not know whether there 
is a God. But as a scientist, I do not deny Him. 
The question is simply not within my realm. All 
that I insist upon as a scientist is that you do not 
foist upon me a God that is inconsistent with what 
science must regard as verifiable facts and laws." 



Hence, as a matter of fact, science does not dis- 
prove God, but leaves the question utterly open, 
just as it does the question of immortality. One 
reas*on why there is a popular impression other- 
wise, even to the belief that science is atheistic, is 
that some of the traditional ideas of God have un- 
fortunately carried with them notions that later 
scientific discovery flatly contradicted. Some of the 
older theologies confidently offered as proofs for 
God considerations that have had to be refuted and 
abandoned by every one who accepts the truths of 
modern science. But to prove that some proofs of 
God are fallacious, and to disprove God, are two 
very different things. There may be other more 
critical proofs that do not contradict science. There 
may be new and better reasons that will rescue 
this ancient faith. 

Another reason why scientists have been pardon- 
ably impatient with some of the conceptions of God 
is that so many thinkers have loosely used them to 
explain everything we do not know, instead of seek- 
ing scientific explanations. This is easy, but it 
leaves our ignorance precisely where it was. Why 
war? God. Why cholera? God. The nature of 
life and death? God. To use God as a magic solvent 
for all problems, a panacea for every intellectual un- 
rest, strikes a scientific man as the height of intel- 
lectual laziness and absurdity, and as an attitude 
that makes the resolute progress of truth impossible. 
Scientific impatience with such uses of the idea of 



God has often led unreflecting people hastily to look 
upon science as Godless. 


Approaching the problem of God, then, we must 
beware of these dangers, or our solution will not be 
consistent with the modern temper and will mean 
nothing to a truly modern mind. Above all, while 
fully conscious of the limits of science, we must not 
be content with a conception of God which, while not 
contradicting science, still leaves science out. After 
all, the universe is one; and any moral enterprise, 
even that of proving or seeking God, that does not 
relate itself to the stupendous meanings of scientific 
discovery is worse than useless. 

Is there a God? A being perfect in truth, in good- 
ness, in beauty, and in power? 

I suppose there is no doubt in anybody's mind 
that we have at least an idea of such a perfect being. 
Such an idea holds the meaning of all the ideals we 
strive for, once carried to their highest terms. That 
there is no finite limit that any man is willing to 
set to his search for knowledge, or goodness, or 
beauty, or power, without contradicting all that he 
seeks and does, has already appeared in our dis- 
cussion concerning immortality. Whatever one may 
say about the existence of God, such perfection as 
He is thought to be exists as an ideal, anyway. I 
do not at all mean that any one has a Perfect Idea 



in his mind, but only that he has an idea — yes, an 
ideal — of the Perfect, however imperfect the idea 
itself may be. Indeed, grant that our ideals of per- 
fection are themselves imperfect, we can know this 
only because we can judge them in the light of the 
perfection that we seek and of which, therefore, we 
must have some idea. Take the ideal of perfect 
knowledge, for an instance. No one knows what 
perfect knowledge would be like ; but it is, neverthe- 
less, the infinite goal of all our search for truth. If 
we are certain that our knowledge grows from year 
to year, from age to age, it can be only because we 
know growth in knowledge when we see it ; but such 
growth, such progress toward the goal, can be tested 
and made sure only through the possession by man's 
spirit of the ideal of the goal of knowledge itself, 
a knowledge that is ideally complete and knows no 
errors; in terms of which all progress in truth is 
judged and all errors are rectified. If man does 
that miraculous thing, corrects his own errors, 
guides and judges his own progress in the search 
for truth, he must verily have within him the stand- 
ard of truth, an imperfect idea of some of the char- 
acteristics of the complete truth that he seeks. Or, 
his search is meaningless. Should science deny this, 
its very denial would be made possible only by as- 
suming the very thing it denies; namely, that we 
possess some ideal of perfect truth, in terms of which 
all denials of error, including even this, are made. 
So perfect truth is real as an ideal at any rate. 



So is perfect goodness. All moral progress is 
known to be progress only because we think of it as 
approximating nearer and nearer to an ever-reced- 
ing goal of the goodness that is perfect. Without 
some idea of this perfect goodness, we could not 
talk of progress toward it at all. This goodness that 
will suffer no defeat speaks to us through conscience, 
even when conscience is mistaken; and through it 
conscience is educated and refined. It speaks to us 
through every moral sacrifice, all retracing of steps 
for the sake of that which is not yet and which, 
nevertheless, imperatively rules all that we are and 
hope to be. Whether there be a good God or not, 
perfect goodness itself exists as an ideal beyond a 
peradventure. And the same may be said of all else 
that we fundamentally seek, such as the beauty that 
will never let us rest, and the power our weakness 
aspires to with all its strength. 

We come then to this : What I have defined as 
God we actually seek as an ideal, — whether we care 
to call it God or not. We seek Something of perfect 
goodness, truth, beauty, and power. To say that 
man will never reach a place where, short of com- 
pleteness, he can abandon his search and say, "It 
is done," is to reveal of what sort his ideal is. Any 
denial of it is verbal; his activities and sacrifices 
ceaselessly affirm it in spite of all that he can 

Now, this Something that we seek is that which 
would, if once attained, completely realize ourselves, 



fulfill ourselves, make ourselves whole, satisfy our 
every yearning to become that which we are not. 
That is, deeply seen, the moral ideal is not merely 
something' which you wish to possess as something 
external to you, but it is something that you wish to 
become. Unless growth in truth or goodness is in the 
last resort your growth, whatever else it is, it is 
meaningless. The ideal is yourself and every man 
carried to his highest terms. In other words, being 
imperfect persons, all of us, we seek an ideal which, 
when interpreted, is the conception of what it would 
be to be a Perfect Person. For a person to seek an 
impersonal ideal is a contradiction. It is moral 
suicide. To seek ideals is to seek nothing else than 
self-fulfillment, — which may as much as you please 
involve the fulfillment of others, too, but must not 
annihilate you, or your search is your search no 
longer. We persons, then, seek to fulfill ourselves in 
an ideal of a Perfect Person, perfect in all the ways 
in which we seek completeness. 

But to prove that we actually possess an ideal of 
the Perfect Person is not yet to prove God, unless 
we are among those who are satisfied with think- 
ing of God as a mere ideal. Some have been so satis- 
fied. And if there were actually no other sense in 
which God is real, even then we would possess some- 
thing of infinite value, an ultimately priceless thing, 
a test and transformer of civilization, to which, even 
if only a thought in the mind, we could exclaim with 
every aspiration of the human spirit, 



O thou immortal deity, 
Whose throne is in the depth of human thought. 

Yet, most people aspire further. They cannot 
be content to think of God as finally reduced to only 
' 'my ideal. ' ' Nay, that were but the shadow of God ; 
He vanishes into nought, a fantasy, a dream. And 
it may be well to pause here long enough to point 
out that even the God we have thus far reached is 
more — far more — than just "my ideal." It is my 
ideal in the sense that it is in me; but it would be 
much more correct to say that even as an idea it 
possesses me more than I possess it. Indeed, in a 
very real sense, it is independent of me and of what 
I think. Or, if you wish, its significance is not that 
I think it, but that I have to think it; not that I live 
in terms of it, but that I cannot avoid doing so. In 
this sense, it is more than I and independent of 
me. For instance, the ideal of truth is not merely 
my private property or yours. Before we were 
born, truth's laws of logic were; after we die, they 
still shall be. I do not capriciously make the ideal of 
logic; and I cannot unmake it, any more than I can 
unmake a mathematical axiom. The ideal of perfec- 
tion always was and always will be wherever there 
is a mind. It is the one eternal thing that no mind 
can deny without denying itself. Wherever ideas 
are, there it is. "But if God is not thus reduced to 
merely my ideal, at any rate He is reduced to merely 
an ideal or, at best, the ideal." Suppose this were 



the end of the story. What a wonderful thing the 
belief in God still would be! How loyalty to Him 
would transform life ! How conviction in the reality 
of God, even if only as a "far off divine event toward 
which the whole creation moves, ' ' would transfigure 
the universe ! The Ideal of all we are and hope to 
be can be thought of as no shadow; it is the central 
reality. Even if we could induce men to believe in 
God only in so far, morals would be just so far 
saved, moral confidence would live again, and moral 
heroism be made almost reasonable, — not the mere 
fanaticism of dreamers and of fools. 


Still, the insistent question intrudes itself. 
Granted that God is real at least as an ideal, with the 
infinite power over us men that such an ideal has, 
is He real in the further sense usually demanded by 
men when they demand a proof of God? In other 
words, Is God real in the same sense that you and 
I are real? For there is no question that I am real 
in a further sense than in being a mere idea in some- 
body 's mind. Socrates may be a moral ideal for his 
admirers ; but we all know that he is something more. 
Is God this something more, even as Socrates, even 
as you and I? This is the question that we must now 
answer in a straightforward way, without appeal to 
our mere feelings, and without such logical subtleties 
as savor of evasion. 



It happens that the answer to this question comes 
with all definiteness as soon as we make clear what 
the mere ideal called God means in its utter fullness. 
That is, adequately to show what this ideal of the 
Perfect truly means is suddenly to come upon the 
all-significant fact that it is necessarily more than a 
mere ideal; that it is indeed something real, even 
as I am real. Upon this adventure let us cast our 
fortunes and see what we find. 

In regarding the nature of the moral ideal very 
carefully, three great facts about it will become 
plain. We shall name these facts first, and explain 
them afterwards. The first is that the ideal of the 
Perfect, when carefully examined, proves to be not 
merely a goal at the end of a search, but is a goal 
of such a nature that it somehow includes the search 
itself. The second is that the moral ideal somehow 
includes also the great world of nature in which we 
live and which, at first sight, seems so indifferent 
and even unfavorable to man's moral purposes. And 
the third fact is that the Perfection you and I in- 
dividually seek includes also the perfection of our 
fellows, even as their search includes yours and 
mine; that is, the moral ideal is inevitably social. 
Later, it will be seen that upon proving just these 
things the proof for God rests. I now proceed brief- 
ly to give reasons for them one by one. 

First, then, the ideal of the Perfect is not merely 
a goal at the end of a search, but includes the search 
itself. This looks like a logical subtlety, but it is 



harmless. When understood, common sense will be 
found to sanction it, as well as consistent reason. 
Nobody, surely, evaluates a human life by what it is 
during its final moment before death, as if the goal 
of moral endeavor were just that last moment, 
thought of as a goal for the sake of which all the 
rest of life was lived. How insignificant that last 
moment is likely to be, even in the lives of great 
men ! No, we evaluate a life in terms of the whole 
life as it was lived from first to last. The goal of 
our life's striving is to make our whole life after 
the pattern of the ideal, not merely the last moment 
of it. Thus it is that in our moral struggles we 
never can leave out our past ; if it is wrong, we must 
atone for it by whatever will set it right when seen 
as a whole. This is, indeed, the meaning of our 
hours of remorse, our deeds of repentance, our 
conscientious endeavors to undo the things we have 
done wrongly by deeds that do not forget them, but 
that transcend them and transfigure them. This is 
true even of a finite life that ends with death. How 
infinitely true of the immortal life ! For such a life 
there can be no last deed, no goal at which we "ar- 
rive" and, arriving, abide. No, it is an infinite 
search, growing more and more towards the ideal 
that forever leads forward, and that commands as 
part of its behest that every deed, even the humblest, 
be counted in making up life's immortal balance, 
even mistakes and sins, lifted into a new reality by 
the deeds that rectify them and so change their 



meaning in the infinite total. Yesterday, to-day, and 
to-morrow all belong to the infinite life we build and 
seek, — not at all is that life a mere vanishing point 
postponed to infinite futures ! Life is dynamic, not 
static; so is the moral ideal. The Perfect is the per- 
fection of all the deeds that make up our striving 
when seen as a whole, not the end and surcease of 

Second, the moral ideal somehow includes the 
great world of nature in which we live. By this I 
mean that the natural order is ultimately to be 
thought of as a moral order; an order that is con- 
sonant with man's own moral ideal, — not a mere 
mechanism, utterly indifferent to man's search for 
the Perfect. At first sight, nothing seems further 
from the facts. Nature thwarts man at every turn. 
It seems to be absolutely indifferent to his moral en- 
terprises. The rain falls upon the just and the un- 
just ; indeed, the just often miss it when they most 
want it, and the unjust get it without even praying 
for it. Is it not a matter of ancient observation that 
"many are the afflictions of the righteous," and that 
1 ' the wicked flourish like a green bay tree ' ' ? 

But there is another fact not to be forgotten. If 
nature thwarts man, man overcomes nature and 
shapes it to his uses, so that it thwarts him less 
and less. This is the story of civilization and its 
inner meaning, — the shaping of nature to man's 
ideals ; forests into cities, stones into temples, wilder- 
nesses into highways, colors into paintings, sounds 



into music and the articulate dreams of literature. 
Out of recalcitrant dust, a sword of flame to storm 
the heights ! Science gives us her gift, the laws of 
nature; but they would be a worthless gift if they 
were not such that we could use them in the service 
of progress toward that Perfect which we restlessly 
and forever seek. Science would not be tolerated 
for one moment if it were not for this usefulness. It 
cannot exist for the sake of mere intellectual curios- 
ity. Mere intellectual curiosity is an abstraction 
that expires if left to itself ; for man is not only an 
intellect, but a will and a desire ; and all things must 
serve this or fail. And to insist that nature must be 
interpreted in terms of man's will does not make 
man the egoistic center of nature, any more than to 
insist that it be interpreted in terms of his reason, 
as we do not hesitate to do, and as science is forever 
doing. Nature must be interpreted in terms of 
man's will, too, or man will abandon nature, — which, 
he cannot do since it is part of his very life. Yes, 
part of his life, and so part of his ideal. This is the 
meaning of our resolute and successful attempt to 
master nature, even to its infinitude. Even to its in- 
finitude, for 

This day before dawn I ascended a hill and look'd at the 

crowded heaven, 
And I said to my spirit When we become the enf aiders of 

those orbs, and the pleasure and knowledge of every' 

thing in them, shall we be filVd and satisfied them? 
And my spirit said No, we but level that lift to pass and 

continue beyond. 



To interpret nature thus morally does not con- 
tradict or interfere with or change a single scientific 
law. Nor does it mean that we insist that science 
shall interpret the world one whit otherwise than it 
does. For example, one shall not insist that the 
biologist as such should think that the survival of 
the fittest means in the long run the survival of the 
morally best ; although one shall hold that this is so. 
It does no violence whatever to any scientific law to 
interpret the life of nature from the standpoint of 
the moral ideal, the ultimate standpoint that gives 
meaning to everything man thinks and does, in- 
cluding the achievement of scientific truth. The 
scientific laws of digestion are not moral in them- 
selves; but they are among the natural means for 
living a life that rationally is moral. Science deals, 
if you please, with the structure of the world-life; 
morals with its function; science with its body; 
morals with its soul. 

The natural order must be ultimately moral, or 
moral faith is in vain and impossible. For the very 
materials of man's moral task are found in nature; 
and if nature be not such as he can, through strug- 
gle, shape to his uses, his task is in vain. But if 
his task is in vain, its futility means a contradiction 
to the very essence of man, which resides, as we 
have seen, in the moral search, which, if contra- 
dicted, shatters the world from the standpoint of a 
complete logical consistency. We must believe that, 
in the long run, nature is for us, not against us, or 



we throw away our ideals ; and we simply cannot do 
that. So nature is part of the power that makes for 
righteousness. Whatever our abstractly intellectual 
beliefs about it, in times of crises, when our wills 
assert themselves in their ultimate nakedness, we 
make this inalienable demand. When, at such times, 
nature seems perversely counter to the good, our 
loyalties still live on in the faith of the common say- 
ing that nature knows "best"; otherwise we perish. 
In Light, a novel by Barbusse, it is said of a work- 
ingman's wife that "she doesn't believe in God." 

"Ah," says a mother standing by, "that's because 
she has no children." 

"Yes, she has got two." 

"Then," says the poor woman, "it's because 
they've never been ill." 

This is not mere sentiment. It is a profound 
philosophical observation. We must believe that 
even in nature all things work together for good. 

The third fact about the Perfection that you and 
I seek is that it includes the perfection of our fellows, 
even as their search includes yours and mine; that 
is, the moral ideal is inevitably social. To prove this 
is merely to prove that you and I are social by 
nature, which means, psychologically, that I possess 
as a fundamental and ineradicable part of me what 
Mill called "a feeling of unity with my fellow crea- 
tures " ; or, metaphysically, that I cannot fully define 
my own being save in terms of the being of others ; 
or, morally, that my ultimate ideal reveals itself as 



not a life isolated from all, but a life that includes 
the good of everybody. This truth has often been 
regarded as the very heart of morality. It has even 
been doubted that there would be any such thing as 
morality left for an absolutely isolated human being. 
Our supreme virtues are social because our larger 
self is one that can leave no fellow self whatever 
outside the circle of our ultimate regard. The in- 
dividual progresses through society, and society 
through the individual. The moral enterprise is 
social through and through, because we are inher- 
ently social through and through. Or, if you please, 
your search and my search and the search of all 
the rest of us is a search for an ideal common to 
us all. We each seek the same Perfection, each in 
his own way ; for, surely, there can be only one Per- 
fect. And if the goal is the same for all, then not 
only all my deeds, but yours too, and those of every 
one of the infinite number of souls that seek the Ideal 
are parts of the same great search that includes us 
every one. And this is what links our lives; we 
each seek the same, each in his own way; yet for 
each to value as priceless his own search means to 
value as priceless the search of all the rest, of which 
his own is but a part, — yes, which his own must in- 
clude to be complete. 

Such, then, are three fundamental characteristics 
of the moral ideal when it is made more explicit. We 
come to this, then : The Perfection that we seek is the 
infinite series of our deeds, including all of nature 



and the lives of all our fellows. But see at what we 
have arrived! We suddenly perceive the fact that 
if we grant what has been said, the moral ideal is 
nothing less than that Life which is the Total Uni- 
verse in its infinite completeness. Little by little the 
ideal of Perfection has demanded all time, all nature, 
all lives, and finally that infinite completeness which 
is the totality of things. But this " totality of 
things" suddenly emerges as something more than 
that God which science gave us under that phrase. 
It is no longer, rightly interpreted, a mere aggre- 
gate of facts, or even a mere mechanistic organiza- 
tion of facts, but it is a moral order, a Life, realiz- 
ing itself through infinite deeds through infinite 
time. And behold, this Life universal, just because 
it is our ideal, is ourselves, each of us, carried to 
our utter fulfillment. Further, such a Life is per- 
sonal, if we are personal; for the essence of the 
moral personality of each of us is to have and to 
be just such a purpose that realizes itself immortal- 
ly. We found God to exist at least as the Ideal of 
Perfection, of the Perfect Person; but this very 
ideal, upon careful analysis, turns out to be some- 
thing more than a mere ideal; it is none other than 
the totality of things, whose meaning and life 
we each seek! But now, surely this totality of 
things is real; even science accepts that. Then, 
just as surely and triumphantly is God real, for 
He is this very Totality, regarded as a Life. He is 
as real as I am real, for if He, the universal Life, 



is not real, then I, who am real only in terms of 
exactly that, fall into nothingness. If I am real, so 
is He; if I were not real, He could not be, for it 
is part of His reality to be that perfect life that I 
immortally seek and find. Or, if God is not real, 
my search is not real. But it is. I accept God or 
abandon my search, since it is He I seek! And I 
\ will not abandon my search, for this were my death. 
Of a verity, God is even more real than you and I, 
if one means by "you and I" what we are here and 
now, the poor selves we actually are at this 
moment. Even common sense recognizes that the 
actual self you now are is not your whole reality; 
it is not what you speak of when you speak of your- 
self in your full meaning. Yourself as you are 
actually, as you are up to date, is only part of that 
larger self which belongs to you, the self that in- 
cludes all your future as well as all your past. In- 
deed, the future is rightly said to be already your 
future ; it is a veritable part of you, of your career, 
which up to now is only begun, but which certainly 
belongs to you. Yes, that larger self of yours is 
more really you than the fleeting, partial self that 
you now are; you will tolerate or understand your 
partial self at all only as you relate it to the self 
that you yet shall be. But this larger self that is 
more real than the self you are now is the Ideal 
in its fullness, — it is God. He is more real than 
you are now, even as your complete self is more 
truly you than the poor self that you are to-day, 



with your infinite to-morrows all forgotten and 
unclaimed. Even for science, the real is more than 
the actual, — that which is up-to-date. Science pre- 
dicts with all confidence the event that is not yet 
actual, as part of its real world. For science, even 
the events of the future are as inexorably real as 
those of the past; the problem is not to decide if 
such events are real, but merely to discover what 
they are. 

Such is one of the highways of reason that lead 
to God. Like the proof for immortality, it is a 
proof as thoroughly cogent as science's proof for 
her own widely accepted hypotheses, which are, 
nevertheless, regarded as universal laws; laws 
which it does not occur to us to question, because to 
question them would be to question the very being 
of science itself. A hypothesis proved because it is 
necessary to make life's search consistently possi- 
ble is just as certain as any hypothesis deemed 
proved because it makes possible the special enter- 
prise of life called science. Indeed, the search of 
science is justified only by its service to this larger 
search that is the heart of man's life, the soul of 
his moral being. 

Nor may it be said that this proof for God is 
merely a moral proof, in the sense that it is not 
also an intellectual proof, such as are the proofs 



of science. If men would only realize that our moral 
and intellectual interests are not two separate 
worlds ! For if one is arguing from facts, then the 
moral ideal is just as much an immutable fact of 
man's nature as any other fact, such as a star, or 
a geologic stratum ; and all other facts must be made 
rationally consistent with it, if it can be done with 
no shadow of contradiction to scientific laws. 

Moreover, the proof for God offered here is not 
to be confused with certain proofs that have been 
quite current in the past, but have lost the confi- 
dence of the modern mind. It must not be con- 
fused with the ancient argument, made famous by 
Anselm, that God exists because the very idea of 
God's perfection can leave nothing out of God and 
so must include His existence. Our argument is 
not merely an argument from the nature of the idea 
of God to the fact that He exists, although it is at 
least this; but it is, most truly seen, an argument 
from the irrefutable facts of the moral life to the 
equally irrefutable fact of God. We face the facts ; 
and the supreme Fact of all is the Totality of all 
Facts. And all the facts, including the central facts 
of man's moral nature, demand that we interpret 
this Totality of all Facts, this supreme Fact, as a 
moral order, as a self-realizing purpose fulfilling it- 
self, and, so, as a Person, identical with the moral 
ideal that alone makes the life of us men real. 

Nor is this proof of God to be confused with the 
old and most often fallacious attempts to prove 



God from, nature. This argument has been a favor- 
ite one, on which many a man has pinned his faith 
only to find later that nature itself reveals no Per- 
fect Person. Nature just by itself gives us no moral 
order; she gives us a series of changes, which in 
themselves may be equally for better or worse ; the 
truth is, we must find a way to interpret nature in 
terms of God before we can interpret God in terms 
of nature. Remain within the physical nature that 
science deals with, and no shred of evidence for God 
is found. Science is right here. Lucretius, admit- 
ting only a universe of matter, 

dropped his plummet down the broad 
Deep universe, and said, ' ' No God ! ' ' 

And within his presuppositions, he was right. 
Nature is bad or good according to one's viewpoint; 
it is the viewpoint itself that must be proved. Where 
in all nature does one find perfect rationality, or 
perfect goodness? One reads these things into 
nature, not out of nature. One comes to nature with 
these faiths in his heart. What a man sees of 
God in nature is the indirect reflection of Him 
through the man. But when nature is once seen 
thus, nature is most eloquent. If Lucretius had 
only dropped his plummet into the human soul! 
Man is a fact; in the study of this fact the moral 
order and God are logically found. It is an op- 
probrious accusation that man created God in his 
own image ; yet, in a sense, man is the logical creator 



of God in so far as God is logically implied in 
man's own being; if man ceased God would not be. 
This is what Socrates meant when he said before 
his accusers, ''I do believe that there are gods, and 
in a far higher sense than any of my accusers do. ' ' 
For they relied upon the traditionally external 
proofs; but Socrates' proof was found in the man- 
date of the Delphic oracle, "Know Thyself. ' r It is 
in this central fact, in terms of whose reason and 
will nature must ever be ultimately interpreted, that 
God is found. Within first; without afterwards. 

Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and 

So close that Emerson, knowing that we are part 
of that moral order which is His life, could well 
challenge the logician thus : 

Draw, if thou canst, the mystic line 
Severing rightly his from thine, 
Which is human, which divine. 

It is one of the traditional sayings of the Nazarene 
that "if thou hast seen thy brother, thou hast seen 
thy God." Even in the common man, the infinite 
moral order is revealed. Those who see beneath his 
mere appearance, those whom we call the seers, 
have ever known this. How the poets glorify the 
common man! To write his drama at all truly is 
ever to make him a member of that moral order 
whose infinite urge is the source of all tragedy. 



For the spirit of tragedy is the theme of moral 
doom, the annihilation of ideals; but while, on the 
stage, the tragedy is final, in life as men live it the 
tragic doom is ever transcended; it is only an 
episode ; there are infinite acts to come. As a great 
dramatic poet, Browning, puts it : 

Man is hurled 
From change to change unceasingly, 
His soul 's wings never furled, 


Unless the conception of God that has now re- 
vealed itself as the end of our quest is also the God 
that our Occidental consciousness really seeks; un- 
less this conception satisfies its intelligence and its 
moral criticism, our proof of God is not of much 
practical value. But I now maintain that the con- 
ception at which we have arrived includes all the 
essential demands of religions modernly prevalent. 
For instance, the Christian consciousness, too, in- 
sists that God is to be identified with the supreme 
moral ideal; concerning whom, therefore, the chief 
moral imperative is, "Be ye therefore perfect, even 
as your Father which is in heaven is perfect." That 
He is an ideal in my own image as I am in His 
image, is a thought that thrills the rhapsody of St. 
John when he exclaims, beholding the nature and 
goal of the struggle toward the completed Life, 



" Beloved, now are we all the sons of God, and it 
doth not yet appear what we shall be ; but we know 
that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, 
for we shall see Him as He is." With Christianity, 
we have found that the superlative law of God is 
the law of love, not of force, since He rules all by 
being the Ideal of all, which, lifted up, shall "draw 
all men unto Him," through the love they bear to- 
ward that Perfect which is their ultimate desire. 
Christianity joins too with our moral reason in in- 
sisting that the divine life shall include nature; 
that not a sparrow's fall but is included in His 
meanings ; that the natural body is the very ' ' temple 
of the holy spirit," not to be abnegated, but trans- 
figured; that the moral law is so regnant over 
natural law with its apparent indifferences that, at 
the last, "all things work together for good" for 
those who interpret all things through the Ideal, — 
love for which is their supreme loyalty. Christian- 
ity, too, is certain that the moral goal is social; it 
is a "kingdom" that includes all our fellows, the 
veritable "Kingdom of God." And, finally, if the 
Christian conception is of a personal God, symbol- 
ized most intimately by the term of Father, so also 
the conception to which we have come is personal, 
as has been abundantly shown. Even reason as 
well as feeling has led us to the great Comrade, 
away from that infinite loneliness that smites us if 
God is a mere ideal, a mere shadow or projection of 
the self. A lofty selfishness were that, it is true; 



but it satisfies at the last neither reason, nor the 
unselfish love that demands that the object of its 
affection shall not be a vision only, but a reality, 
a veritable Other, who never forsakes, in whose 
life we share, and whose ever-present being gives 
us confidence to transcend all our defeats. No, this 
God we have found is no strange and alien God. It 
is the God the modern world has found itself seek- 
ing in its most conspicuous moments of religious 
awareness, if haply it might feel after Him and 
find Him. 


But amid so much that takes us into the regions 
of theory, we are apt to forget why we set out to 
solve the problem of God. It was for no religious 
purpose primarily, and for no sentimental reason 
at all, — not even for the sake of satisfying our in- 
tellectual curiosity, however pardonable. It was 
for one reason alone, to discover if God is neces- 
sary to make a moral order possible, and if so, in 
what sense. It has sufficiently appeared, long be- 
fore coming upon our present problem, that morals 
cannot get along without a moral ideal ; that moral 
confidence, moreover, means faith in the guarantee 
of the ultimate triumph of righteousness. It now 
appears that logic inevitably leads us to identify 
these requisites with the conception of God, whose 
existence a critical reason makes supremely real. 



A moral ideal and the guarantee of the victory of 
the Good, — one of these two moral values we said 
God must have to be of moral worth. He has them 
both. He is the ideal; and He guarantees right's 
triumph because His eternal reality is that triumph, 
and because He insures it by His everlasting pres- 
ence in human consciousness as the idea of the Per- 
fect, through which wrong is forever criticized, 
and rebuked, and overcome. Again, in all this no 
fact or law of science has been impugned; nature is 
not cast aside or obscured, but given a new mean- 
ing that increases the worth of natural science im- 

The belief in God thus turns out to be one of 
the indispensable bases for a vigorous moral con- 
fidence, along with the belief in immortality. In- 
deed, truly seen, moral progress, since it is progress 
toward the Perfect, means nothing more or less 
than progress in the living knowledge of God. Thus, 
the moral life and the religious life finally coincide. 
It is the morally pure in heart that shall see God. 
It is indeed true that, as the pietists used to say, 
"mere morals will not save you," for mere morals 
never can persist by themselves; logically carried 
out, mere morals lead to the very center of the re- 
ligious verity and to the soul of its aspiration. 
Science is one of the most indispensable parts of 
this moral progress — this progress in the knowledge 
of God — for if the moral consciousness gives us the 
end of the human struggle, science, by ordering and 



conquering nature, gives us the means. This moral 
evaluation of science instead of detracting from 
its importance in civilization, immeasurably mag- 
nifies its task, lifting it from the plane of mere 
rational curiosity to that of an invaluable instru- 
ment of human advancement. 

I suspect that long before this, an apprehension 
has been growing in the reader's mind. I can 
imagine him saying: " Suppose we admit the God 
you think you have proved; you have given us a 
God that is the supreme fact in the world ; but have 
you not attributed to God such supremacy that 
mere man is reduced to nought, so that he is left 
with no free will of his own, since, at the last, (he 
has been interpreted as only part of a universal 
Will that cannot be gainsaid? You sought a God 
in the interests of morals; but in proving God, 
you have destroyed all morals if you have, as it 
seems, made man merely an inextricable part of 
Him, with no individual freedom, and so with no 
individual responsibility. "Why should we struggle, 
if all is to be right in the end anyway, since, as 
you say, God's will cannot but prevail?" 

This question is important. Undoubtedly, the con- 
ception to which we have been led gives God a power 
that is infinite. He is not only the goal of all 
things, but the inclusive reality pervading all 
things. He logically creates their very being and 
every minim of their meaning. We have lifted God 
from the world of shadows to the world of reality; 



but, in so doing, have we not reduced man himself 
from a reality to a phantom, so that 

We are no other than a moving row 

Of Magic Shadow-shapes that come and go 

Round with this Sun-illumin 'd Lantern held 
In Midnight by the Master of the Show ; 

Impotent Pieces of the Game He plays 
Upon this Checker-board of Nights and Days; 

Hither and thither moves, and checks, and slays, 
And one by one back in the Closet lays. 

If we have reached a God like this, all our proof 
of Him is worse than vanity. But have we done 
this? Unless man is more than a puppet in God's 
hands, the master of his fate, he has no moral 
responsibility, no genuine moral struggle, no real 
moral victories, and no moral faith, — save the 
passive faith that yields its will and waits, in the 
abject quiescence of a spirit cowed and driven, and 
ultimately lost in an Absolute that absorbs him and 
nullifies him. 

We must face this difficulty resolutely. In doing 
so, there will emerge with still more clarity what 
God and man both are in their final significance. 



Western civilization proclaims freedom for men. 
This freedom is often considered the supreme test 
of the valiant worth of our democratic institutions. 
What this vaunted freedom means to the average 
man is fairly clear. It means that he has the right 
to live his own life as he pleases, so far as this is 
compatible with the like freedom of his fellows. 

But freedom means more than this to most men 
who value it, — vastly more. It means a new sense 
of responsibility. For, in proportion as thinking 
men regard themselves free to do as they please, 
they are willing to be held accountable for what they 
do. To be free and to be responsible for what one 
does are one and the same thing. So long as a man 
is compelled to do as he is told, he can be neither 
praised nor blamed; he is not morally answerable 
for what he cannot help. But as soon as he is free 
from such compulsion, he knows that he may be 
justly censured or approved for his acts, since now 
they truly belong to him and to him alone. Indeed, 
it is largely for the sake of acquiring the worth and 
glory of this responsibility that the modern man 
has sought freedom at all. He wants freedom in 



order that lie may become, in Henley's famous 
phrase, the master of his fate and the captain of 
his soul. 

This, then, is the clew to our insistence upon our 
freedom. This is why we of the Occident hold as 
sacred our heritage of the long struggle for free- 
dom, — each of us desires to feel that he is the amen- 
able fashioner of his own life. The chief problems 
of modern times are likely to be problems of how 
to secure further freedom of this sort; freedom in 
all the arenas of activity where men seek lustily to 
fulfill themselves; not only political freedom, of 
which the American Declaration is the slogan, but 
industrial freedom, intellectual freedom, even relig- 
ious freedom. In its final meaning, the World War 
was a fight for the freedom that should give both 
men and nations a new sense that they are morally 

If men have thus struggled for freedom in order 
that they might gain a civilization in which they 
could become the fashioners of their own lives, the 
masters of their own fates, it follows that they 
must believe that such a mastery is possible. And 
it is certain that the modern man is practically sure 
that nothing in the world, not even nature itself, can 
finally reduce him to a mere plaything of chance and 
fate. Practically, he will not, he cannot assent to 



any such monstrous creed; he will not and cannot 
act otherwise than upon the assumption that, in 
abundant measure, his own destiny is in his own 
hands. This is the thrill of his life, the significance 
of his optimism, the exhilaration of his struggles, 
and the worth of his victories over nature and the 
untoward things that arise to confront him in his 
own civilization. 

The astonishing thing is that while, in the region 
of his best deeds, the modern man commits him- 
self whole-heartedly to this sort of responsible 
freedom, he is rarely able to substantiate his valor- 
ous belief by adequate reasons. That is, practically, 
he is sure of his mastery over fate ; but theoretical- 
ly he is quite as likely to be what is popularly called 
a "fatalist," convinced that all he does is the re- 
sult of causes over which he has no real power. This 
is one of the most interesting of the many paradoxes 
that belong to the man of to-day, — still more inter- 
esting because he seems so very unaware of it. Sud- 
denly confront the cherished freedom of his will 
with his scientific knowledge of the nature of man 
and his world, and he is likely to be "stricken 
through with doubt," that is, always theoretically. 
And, theoretically, he does not mind this; because, 
oddly enough, the theoretical and practical lives of 
the contemporary man are quite sharply sundered. 
Live with him and fight with him, and he sublimely 
demonstrates his conviction of his freedom; but 
once argue with him, and he is just as likely to cele- 



brate fatalism; or, more accurately, determinism, — 
the doctrine that what he is and what he does is, 
after all, the necessary product of heredity and en- 
vironment, or of God's will working itself out in 
His universe. The immense vogue of the Rubaiyat 
of Omar Khayyam is a symptom of just this view- 
point. In it the modern man is likely to find a 
fascinating echo of his more reflective moods. With 
the Persian bard, he can intellectually assent to such 
inexorableness as is expressed by the oft quoted 

The Moving Finger writes ; and, having writ, 
Moves on ; nor all your Piety nor "Wit 

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, 
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it. 

This theoretical conviction that man ultimately 
is determined in all his ways by something bigger 
than himself comes to the modern mind naturally, 
and from two sources. One source is the prevalent 
conception of nature; the other is the prevalent 
conception of God. As for nature, science has 
taught men to think of themselves as caught in 
nature's vast system of causes and effects, which 
cannot except them from the law that each thing — 
sea, or star, or human being — is compelled to be 
just what it is by forces that it cannot control. 
Neither sea, nor star, nor human being has any real 
choice in the matter. And as for God, He is most 
commonly thought of (so far as He is thought of at 



all) as one whose will is so supreme, whose purpose 
so pervades all things, that it becomes eminently 
foolish to suppose that man's puny desires can defy 
it, or that any freedom that he can assert for him L 
self is anything but illusory. Not that men are in 
the habit of carrying their reasoning about God 
so far as this extreme conclusion; but the infer- 
ence is logically inherent in much of popular belief 
and tends to become evident the more one thinks. 
At any rate, neither the current ideas of nature nor 
of God, when reflected upon, seem to the educated 
mind to leave man much room for boasting of the 
freedom of his will. To assert it very forcibly at 
this stage of human knowledge seems a presump- 
tuous egotism. 


And yet from the beginning of civilization it has 
seemed to many great thinkers that unless man is 
vindicated as really free from being wholly de- 
termined by nature or by God, what we call the 
moral life loses its meaning. For unless men can 
really be held accountable for what they do; un- 
less their deeds are in some measure their very own, 
and not utterly forced upon them by external in- 
fluences that they cannot evade, it seems idle moral- 
ly to praise or to blame anybody for what he does. 
To say to a man that he ought to do one thing rather 
than another certainly seems to carry with it the 



assumption that he is free to choose his own way 
and is responsible for his choice. A high moral 
valor and a sense of responsible freedom go to- 

Of course, one must expect to be asked what differ- 
ence it can possibly make even if the man of to- 
day cannot theoretically prove that he is master of 
his fate, provided that, as has been admitted, he 
practically lives as though he were. After all, it 
may be said, it is not a man's mere theories, but 
his practical beliefs that count in this world. The 
obvious answer is that this practical and unreflec- 
tive conviction of men that they are free may be 
entirely wrong; and, if so, it ought speedily to be 
amended. Men surely do not want to build their 
lives upon an error. If men are really free, it ought 
to be provable. And unless men's practical belief 
in their own freedom can be made reasonable in 
theory, their moral faith will not endure, especially 
in an age which subjects itself more and more to 
the tests of reason. 

There are thinkers who deny this ; who say that 
however reason might decide on the question of 
man's freedom, he would act exactly the same. For 
instance, we are told that we are under a grievous 
delusion if we think, as some do, that our activities 
would lose their vigor, or be paralyzed, if we be- 
lieved that all we are and do is determined by forces 
outside ourselves. Attention has often been called 
to the fact that the belief of the Mohammedans in 



predestination has been no obstacle to their being 
one of the most active and aggressive peoples in the 
world. The question is asked, If you are desirous, 
say, of going to Paris, how can the knowledge that 
this desire is the necessary result of causes you 
cannot control change your plans? You will go to 
Paris if you can, will you not, in spite of youj* 
conviction that you are determined? 

Let us see. Suppose that I desire to go to Paris, 
and that I believe that my desire is determined by 
forces I cannot control. And, since I am a thorough 
"fatalist," I also believe that every deed I am to 
do in fulfilling this desire is already determined be- 
forehand by forces utterly beyond my guidance. 
Now, suppose difficulties arise. We will say that 
it is impossible to obtain a passport without great 
effort; or I have not the passage-money and will 
have to earn it at great sacrifice to myself. If I 
really and truly believe that I have absolutely no 
share in fashioning the events that shall take me 
to Paris, I will make no eifort, well knowing that 
if it is foreordained that I reach Paris, I will ar- 
rive there somehow, in any event. Whereas, if I 
genuinely believe that I do help to fashion my own 
future, I will straightway struggle to overcome 
whatever obstacles confront me. In the one case, I 
believe that it makes no difference whether I strug- 
gle or not, — the event is predetermined to happen 
one way or another. In the other case, I know 
that my efforts make all the difference in the world. 



Further, if I believe that I am absolutely determined 
in all I do, I will lose all sense of responsibility for 
what I do. And to lose the sense of responsibility 
is, without the shadow of a doubt, to lose the sense 
of all morals, all sense of legitimate praise or 
blame. If some one objects that I may have a sense 
of moral responsibility and yet be "fated" to have 
it, I make this decisive reply, " Perhaps; but I can- 
not have this sense and at the same time believe 
that all I do is fated." And remember that we are 
considering the effect of our beliefs upon our con- 
duct. This double belief would be a flat contradic- 
tion. It is the same as to say that at the very same 
time and in the same sense I believe that I am both 
fated and free. 

The truth is, there is only one sense in which it 
can be said that a man will act just the same whether 
he believes in determinism or freedom, — namely, in 
the sense that no matter what he believes, he will 
tend to act as though he were free. The determin- 
ist says, "I will do all I can to go to Paris, in 
spite of my belief that my acts are all fated. ' ' To 
which I answer, "Exactly so, — in spite of your be- 
lief in determinism!" And I immediately call at- 
tention to the fact that one cannot continue to act 
long in spite of his intimate convictions, if they are 
really convictions. We cannot thus permanently 
sever what we think from what we do. If the de- 
terminist acts the same as though he thought he 
were free, in spite of his belief, it simply means 



that lie does not take his belief in good faith; he 
ignores it, and even contradicts it in that large 
world of action where beliefs are put to the rigid 
test. That is, his belief that he is fated is merely 
verbal or abstractly intellectual, not vital or prac- 
tical. And yet this will never do ; for the belief in 
fatalism is, in its very nature, a belief that pre- 
tends to interpret the world of a man's practical 
deeds ; so, if it means anything at all, it cannot re- 
main a mere thought ; in the long run, it will trans- 
form all of a man's life. 

All this is merely to say that most men who assert 
that they believe that man is absolutely fated do not 
really believe what they profess. To say that their 
actions belie their theory is to say that their theory 
belies their real convictions. Yet, while this is true 
of most men, I must confess that I can conceive of 
men, and even of large social groups, honestly and 
vitally persuaded that there is no real freedom for 
man. There have been such men and such groups 
in the history of civilization. But I add that in so 
far as they were really convinced of such an out- 
look upon life, it tended to affect their lives very 
significantly, in direct proportion to the strength 
of their conviction. Extreme commitment to the 
belief in fatalism (so far as this is seriously pos- 
sible) has ever tended to result in that quiescence of 
life which, ceasing the futile struggle, says, with 
whatever beatific peace you will, ''Serene I fold 
my hands and wait," assured that, somehow or 



other, "my own will come to me." Or, as with some 
of the famous Stoics, when life becomes too in- 
sistent, such a necessitarian doctrine means the 
submission of suicide. Extreme fatalism, when 
prevalent in large groups or races of men, has led 
to the notably passive civilizations, such as some of 
those of the Orient, where fatalism has flourished 
most conspicuously as a practical creed. Or, if the 
belief in fatalism be not so logically extreme, it 
tends to lead to the life of the pleasure-seeker. 
For the logical conclusion of a half-hearted belief 
in our helplessness means a sort of pessimism with 
regard to the loftier and so more strenuous of the 
moral quests, and lets one down easily into the life 
that seeks the paths of least resistance, — which 
means the life of pleasure. Oddly enough, this is 
precisely the moral conclusion of the fatalistic 
Rubaiyat already quoted. The poet argues that 
since it is true that what ' ' the first morning of cre- 
ation wrote," "the last dawn of reckoning shall 
read," the secret of living is to get what pleasure 
you may; "while you live, drink! — for once dead, 
you never shall return." Yes, difficult as it is to 
hold to the conviction of determinism in the world 
of human action, a man or a people may be enough 
persuaded of it to affect grievously the vigor of 
moral loyalties. Moral passiveness and determin- 
ism go together; just as a robust faith in freedom 
has belonged to aggressive and forward-looking 
peoples ever since history began, our own America 



being time's latest and most conspicuous ex- 

It turns out that an abiding moral faith — yes, the 
very existence of a real moral order — implies in- 
dubitable conviction that men are in some sense 
free. So we are face to face with a rather grim 
alternative; either this conviction of freedom must 
be amply vindicated through reason by the man of 
to-day, or the moral order as we understand it 
must be straightway abandoned. Now, it is surely 
sensible, before abandoning our faith in the moral 
order, to make an honest effort to see if our free- 
dom can in any sense be reasonably justified. And 
if another motive is needed for seriously attacking 
the problem, it is that upon its solution depends the 
unraveling of a number of other important problems 
of life and mind. 


A cynic might well remark that the most promi- 
nent characteristic of the historic discussion about 
free will is its voluminousness. Yet no discussion 
about any problem is voluminous enough until it 
has been solved. However, we ought to make our 
problem as simple as we can ; and so it is well at the 
very outset sharply to define what we are looking 
for. And I shall put the problem in the form of 
three fairly simple questions: First, why do we 
want freedom? Second, what sort of freedom do 



we want? Third, is there any such freedom to be 

First, then, why do we want freedom at all? 
The answer to this question is already apparent. 
We want freedom for the sake of securing that 
moral responsibility indispensable to a moral order; 
for the sake of being able to consider men ac- 
countable for what they do. Or, put it in another 
way: I want freedom so that the approval or dis- 
approval of my deeds is really a praise or blame of 
myself as the source of them. I want freedom so 
that my deeds may be deemed truly mine, — not 
chiefly caused by something not myself. I want 
freedom in the sense that I may truly be said to 
fashion my own life; freedom to realize and fulfill 
myself in my own way, and through my own self. 

Second, what sort of freedom do I need for this 
purpose? In order to discover this, one has to 
ask what sorts of freedom there are. What sorts 
have men fought for? Let us scan them for a mo- 
ment and see if any of them will give us the kind 
of freedom that we want. 

There are some kinds of freedom that are not 
worth while. For instance, there are some who 
think that it would be a good thing to be free from 
any kind of government. But their number is 
small. They are sometimes called anarchists. 
Whatever the merits of such a freedom, we assuredly 
do not need it for the sort of responsibility we seek; 
provided always that we are free to share in the 



making of the laws by which we are governed. This 
is what the long struggle for political freedom has 
meant ; not our freedom from having any laws at all, 
but our freedom to help create them. This is what 
the freedom of democracy means, — not freedom 
from government, but the freedom of self-govern- 
ment; a situation in which every man is not only a 
subject but a sovereign, to be held morally respon- 
sible for violation of law because he freely shares 
in the making of it. No, we do not need freedom 
from human law. 

Perhaps the freedom we want is freedom from 
the laws of nature. Sometimes we think so; espe- 
cially when nature frustrates our purposes by 
events that respect in not one iota our personal de- 
sires. And yet, when we look at the matter in the 
large, we see that the reign of natural law is some- 
thing upon which we actually wish to depend. If 
nature acted in one way to-day and in another way 
to-morrow; if a cause produced one effect this mo- 
ment and an entirely different effect the next, how 
could we plan our lives ? If nature were capricious 
so that we could not depend upon her laws, we 
could not freely or surely accomplish anything. We 
would be the abject slaves of a chance that would 
mock our every effort at the building of a consistent 
life or a rational civilization. To depend upon na- 
ture is to depend upon her constancy. If in her 
constancy she is sometimes cruel, we rise above 
such cruelties by learning her secrets and using them 



as servants of our rational desires. Thus, instead 
of wishing that there were no law of gravitation, I 
use that very law in the commonest tasks of my 
everyday life. I would surely not be free if it acted 
one way on Sundays and another way on Mondays, 
at the caprice of anybody who wanted to change 

But if we do not want to be absolutely and en- 
tirely free from the dependable laws of nature, it 
is sometimes said that our freedom demands that 
we human beings shall be considered the one excep- 
tion to the otherwise universal reign of natural 
law. Let all nature but man be ruled by such in- 
exorable uniformities as nature legislates, — stars, 
suns, chemical reactions, harvests; but let man be 
the conspicuous exception, so that if stars cannot do 
as they please, man at least has some leeway, some 
initiative of his own, some freedom that does not 
belong to the rest of nature. But how can this be? 
In the first place, since men have physical bodies, 
they are members of exactly that same nature to 
which suns and stars belong. So they do not know 
what they ask when they ask to be made excep- 
tions to the reign of such natural law as there is. 
If man were such a capricious exception, he could 
no longer depend upon the changeless laws of his 
body's health and disease, of sanitation, of eugenics; 
these are natural laws that reach into him from 
the outer physical world and govern him; in the 
knowledge of these laws he plans his life. After all, 



human progress depends not upon annihilating these 
immutable laws, but upon discovering them and re- 
lying npon them! What a sorry victim of chance 
that man would be who found that he could establish 
no dependable bodily habits whose results he could 
know, because the human body insisted upon 
being an exception to every one of nature's 
laws ! In eating, for instance, what would be good 
for him to-day might be poison for him to- 

And wholly apart from the desirability that man 
alone should be a capricious exception to natural 
law, it is clearly necessary that if he deems certain 
uniform laws to belong to the world of natural bod- 
ies in their very nature (as science does), he can- 
not consistently make a glaring exception of him- 
self just because he is a human body. And as for 
the human mind, even the scientific investigation of 
so subtle a thing as it is reveals that it, too, is 
ruled by certain rigid laws and that these laws can 
be determined. Under the same circumstances, the 
same ideas and feelings, yes. volitions occur. If 
this were not so, experimental psychology would 
not be the science that it is. No. it is neither de- 
sirable nor possible that man should be the one 
thing in the world beyond the reign of those laws 
that pervade all things. To do away with a natural 
law in the isolated case of man would be to do away 
with it entirely; for man simply cannot separate 
himself from nature in this absurd way. So runs 



the argument. If we find any reason for amending 
it later, it must be in keeping with the spirit of 


So far, we have found two sorts of freedom that 
we do not want and that, furthermore, science would 
not let us have, even if we did want them. We can 
neither want nor obtain a sort of nature where there 
is no law; and we can neither want nor obtain the 
kind of freedom that makes man so cut off from 
nature that he is an entire exception to its laws. 
For, whatever else man is, he is also a member of 
the natural order, the same as mountains and trees 
and stars. 

But there is still a chance for us. Of all the no- 
tions of human freedom, the most popular is that 
of freedom of choice. This is probably what is really 
in the minds of most of those who claim that man 
is an exception to nature's rigid laws. Freedom 
of choice at least, it is alleged, we have; and it is 
also asserted that it does not do away with the pos- 
sibility of natural law ; so that here we have a free- 
dom that pretends to be in keeping with science. 
Whatever deed a man does, he must do it in ac- 
cordance with nature's laws; but he has the free- 
dom to decide whether or not he will do the deed at 
all. Granted that one cannot do absolutely as one 
pleases in the world of nature, it is contended that 



one has at least enough freedom to choose between 
alternatives, so that he can always say of any course 
of action he has chosen, "I might have done other- 
wise.' ' If I choose to go to Paris, I must obey the 
laws of nature, such as those of motion, of gravi- 
tation, and the rest; but I have the freedom to de- 
cide whether I actually shall go to Paris. 

Since this idea of freedom is the most prevalent 
of all; and since most people think that at least 
this much freedom is absolutely necessary in order 
to hold men morally accountable for their deeds, let 
us examine it very closely and see what we mean 
by it, whether we really need it, and whether science 
will let us have it. 

It is always hazardous to define what people mean 
by an idea that they rarely stop to consider serious- 
ly, and never analyze adequately, but merely take 
for granted in its vagueness. Yet we must attempt 
now to make as clear as possible what men usually 
mean when they claim to possess freedom of choice, 
or we shall make no progress in showing its value 
and its truth. In analyzing what people really in- 
tend by this notion, one must not only have in mind 
the common everyday utterances of everyday men, 
but also the literature — the dramas, novels, poems — 
that seem to express worthily the common con- 
sciousness and the common life. 

Looking at the popular notion of freedom of 
choice from this broad point of view, it seems to 
mean, first of all, that at least sometimes, and when- 



ever I am to be held morally accountable, there is 
actually more than one possibility of action open to 
me ; and that I myself can determine which of these 
courses of action I shall adopt, irrespective of pre- 
vious events in the outer world, or of my own pre- 
vious character and circumstances. No matter what 
my heredity and environment, no matter whether I 
have previously lived the life of a saint or a sin- 
ner, there are times when I find myself confronted 
with alternatives of conduct, where nothing remains 
but my own free edict to determine what I shall do. 

What this general statement of the case deeply 
implies is for us to find out. To the common con- 
sciousness it does not mean that I can always 
choose to act as I act. To hold this would be absurd. 
For there is no doubt whatever that all of us are 
frequently compelled to do things that we do not 
in the least choose to do. At such times, too, we 
deny that we are to be rightly held morally re- 
sponsible ; if blamed for what we have done, we dis- 
claim the deed as really our own ; it was done to us, 
not by us. 

Yet, it is very important to note that even in 
such cases I am frequently held to have a residuum 
of moral responsibility, in that while I could not do 
as I would choose, still I could think as I chose, even 
if I could not carry my thought into outer action. 
Thus, I often defend myself when I have done some- 
thing for which people blame me, but which I could 
not help, by saying, "I disapprove of what I was 



compelled to do as much as you disapprove of it; 
but I could not do what I chose; it simply hap- 
pened that circumstances thwarted me." And when 
our accusers believe that this is so, they exonerate 
us. But this exoneration in such cases is always 
based upon the belief that although I cannot do as 
as I choose, I still can freely choose what I would 
like to do, anyway ; that is, I am still free to choose 
my purposes, my intentions, what I would do if I 
could, even when I cannot make my choice out- 
wardly effective. 

This leads us to the consideration that all our 
choice between deeds really reaches back to a choice 
between our thoughts about deeds. That is, first of 
all we have in our minds two or more ideas of what 
might be done in a given situation; we then choose 
which idea is the one we wish to adopt. Once we 
commit ourselves to one idea of action rather than 
another, the choice is made and inevitably works 
itself out into external deed so far as it can. As 
the psychologist likes to put it, all voluntary action 
is "ideomotor." But whether the external deed is 
permitted by circumstances or not, our real moral 
responsibility, our real freedom of choice, has to do 
with what we choose to think or genuinely intend. 
It has been said that the road to hell is paved with 
good intentions; it would be better to say that the 
road to hell is paved with sham intentions. The 
road to heaven is paved with good intentions, if 
they are the genuine and whole-hearted choices that 



lead, as such choices always do, to the utmost effort 
for their realization. 

Freedom of choice, then, is, in the last resort, the 
freedom to choose our thoughts. Not that we can 
choose to think any thought ; but of several thoughts 
before the attention, we can often choose the better 
or best thought or plan of action. Which means, 
too, that we can also choose the worse idea or plan 
of action. The freedom to think and do right in- 
volves the freedom to think and do wrong. Or, 
if at any moment I cannot freely choose which of 
several plans of action I shall adopt, it is held to be 
my own fault because of previous bad choices, for 
which I am responsible. Dickens calls upon us to 
"think for a moment of the long chain of iron or 
gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have 
bound you, but for the formation of the first link 
on one memorable day." But, in the long run, at 
least, the popular consciousness feels that we have 
some control over our purposes ; and even if at any 
given time we have made it difficult freely to choose 
between alternative purposes, this may be rectified 
at length if we will but use the free effort which is 
still ours and is forever ours. 

This, then, seems to be the meaning of freedom 
of choice according to the popular consciousness. 
It means that we sometimes have the freedom to 
choose among ideas of alternative deeds before the 
attention. It further means that such choices often 
can be realized and made effective in our outward 



acts, so that of many of our deeds we can truly say 
that we freely chose them, that "we might have 
done otherwise." 

Granted that this is the general meaning of the 
popular notion of freedom of choice, the next 
question is why the need of it is considered so im- 
perative. Faith in our freedom to choose has always 
been one of the impregnable citadels of prac- 
tical belief. Most religions, in spite of their all- 
powerful gods, have taught it from the time when 
the Hebrew prophet adjured his people, "Choose 
ye this day whom ye will serve!" to present day 
religion, with its august alternatives which man 
may still freely choose and even deity may not vio- 
late. In spite of the ever-increasing attempts of 
philosophers and scientists to reduce the universe to 
rigid order, where no "chance" shall anywhere in- 
trude, and where free choice shall be a contradiction, 
the popular belief in freedom of choice remains as 
lusty as before. Practically, men have no doubt 
about it, as has been abundantly emphasized. The 
major portion of the world's dramas, novels, and 
poems, in spite of the tragic doom of a Euripides, 
or the pessimistic determinism of a Hardy, cele- 
brate man's mastery over fate within the limits 
of his genuine choices, through which, by his own 
deed, he reaps his triumphs and defeats. 

The reason why men cannot relinquish their prac- 
tical belief in freedom of choice is the same reason 
already given for wanting any freedom. Men want 



freedom of choice because without it they cannot 
conceive how they are to be considered morally ac- 
countable for their deeds, masters of their own fates, 
creators of their own lives, members of a genuine 
moral order. It seems to be the least freedom that 
will make a moral order possible. Take this free- 
dom away, and there is no freedom left except a 
name, no matter what subtleties it is made to cover 
for our intellectual deception. To have "no choice 
in the matter" is to be absolved from any responsi- 
bility in the matter. To have no chance in life is 
to have the portals of free choice shut in one's 
face. To have power is to have the power to choose. 
It is the meaning of the possibility of human pro- 
gress. True, some argue that the moral order can 
progress only on the assumption that we can de- 
termine human wills for the sake of social welfare 
and service; that if men are really free, education, 
laws, arguments, entreaties, moral suasion, punish- 
ment — all means we use to determine conduct — are 
in vain. But the fact is that we never act on the 
conviction that we can literally determine the will 
of any one by arguments, entreaties, moral suasion, 
or by any other means. It is said of woman that 
"convinced against her will, she's of the same opin- 
ion still"; wherein is involved a deep philosophy 
applicable not only to women, but to all wills. The 
most we are conscious of being able to do is to help 
to make circumstances favorable for a choice one 
way or another. The writer's consciousness, at 



least, falls far short of aiming ultimately to de- 
termine the will of another, and he does not con- 
ceive that education aims to do anything of the 
sort. The entire trend of modern conceptions of 
education signifies, rather, the reverse of such an 
idea of compulsion. As for the notion that punish- 
ment is a powerful determining cause, and that 
punishment can have a meaning only in a deter- 
ministic scheme of things that assumes that society 
can determine a man to act for the social good, 
again I am not sure that society does aim directly 
to determine the criminal's will, or even desires to 
do such a far-reaching thing, even in the reformatory 
purposes of punishment. And I might add that the 
socially protective aspect of punishment visited on 
the criminal, especially in the form of imprisonment, 
rather suggests the failure of society to determine 
men, save in the superficial sense of physical con- 
straint. For the criminal as well as for the martyr, 
"stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars 
a cage." No thumbscrew, no discipline, no lock 
and key can determine the murderer's heart not to 
hate ; at the best, we can only make conditions favor- 
able for him to love. 

Men are raised above mere things by the fact that 
they continually confront that most proud and awful 
of all imperatives, ' ' Choose ! ' ' The zest of living, the 
heart of life, and the keen sense of life is the sense 
of creative choice, which is the sense of morals, — 
yes, the moral sense itself ! We can leave the justi- 



fication of this pervasive conviction of men until 
later; but the conviction itself is ancient, universal, 
and genuine. 

But the decisive question still remains. Granted 
the desirability of freedom of choice, will our scien- 
tific knowledge permit us to have it without contra- 
diction? Leaving alone for the time being the ques- 
tion of our power to choose our thoughts, what has 
science to say to the supposition that we can freely 
choose our outward deeds? Such deeds, whether 
freely chosen or not, belong to the physical world 
of science, whose verdict, therefore, we cannot ig- 

Now the common answer of science to the suppo- 
sition of freedom of choice is very clear indeed. 
The arguments that it advances against thinking 
of man as an exception to nature's laws — arguments 
we have already reviewed — are considered equally 
cogent against freedom of choice, which is re- 
garded as nothing but a particular way of think- 
ing of man as just such an anomalous and impos- 
sible exception. Nature's continents and oceans, 
her winters and summers can never choose what 
they would be, and can never say, "I might have 
done otherwise." Neither can nature's men. Once 
more, it seems difficult for any one who has be- 
come familiar with modern scientific method and 



discovery to avoid being a determinist, or, as we 
popularly call it, a fatalist. Yes, the issue seems 
clearly enough denned; accept science, you are a 
determinist ; reject it, and you may be a libertarian 
if you like, but no sane modern mind will pay any 
attention to your prattlings. Surely, science in any 
real sense is made possible only by the supposi- 
tion that there is no such thing as an uncaused event 
anywhere. There seems to be no reason for mak- 
ing an exception of the acts of human wills. For 
science can tolerate absolutely no exceptions. Where 
science is not able to find the causes of some event, 
it must, perforce, imagine them present, even if 
their actual discovery happens to be impossible. 
Especially when we come to consider modern 
science 's most fruitful generalization, the theory of 
evolution, we must see that all supposed free choices 
are in reality the inevitable and necessary results of 
heredity and environment. All is determined; our 
parentage, and hence our inheritance, — these at least 
are no matters for choice. Nor are our time and 
place of birth; the peculiarities of the family and 
people among whom we find ourselves; their lan- 
guage, their customs, their church, their politics, 
their society and their place in that society. Our 
education reflects the general culture and ideals of 
our particular times. Through all the seven ages, 
from the infant in the nurse's arms to the "last 
scene of all that ends this strange, eventful history" 
in "second childishness and mere oblivion," there is 



no place where free choice could make its entrance 
on life's stage. Man's birth is a necessary product, 
as is his whole career; and to both, as to death, his 
only liberty is to submit. He is a part and only a 
part of the total life of humanity and, finally, of 
universal nature. It does not seem that one need 
go into the minor complexities of the problem. The 
general position of science is sufficiently clear; and 
man seems to have no choice but to admit that, so 
far as human knowledge has gone, its position is 

If one raises the objection that, as a matter of 
fact, science does not actually succeed in reducing 
everything in the world to uniform laws, the diffi- 
culty seems easy of solution. There is a passage in 
Froude where, raising this hindrance against mak- 
ing history a science, he denies the possibility of 
scientifically predicting even such large world-move- 
ments as Mohammedanism, or Buddhism, or Chris- 
tianity. It seems at first sight that if human actions 
are causally determined in the way science claims, 
it would be possible to predict them. In short, the 
unpredictability of human deeds suggests that they 
are in some sense or other free of the inevitable 
causal sequence. 

The clear answer to this is that we forget that 
predictability of events is possible only in the later 
stages of any science, and is the sign and test of 
its comparatively complete cataloguing of causes and 
effects. Witness astronomy, whose predictions are 



now quite certain because it is an old science, whose 
major phenomena are comparatively simple. Yet, 
in the infancy of his science, the astronomer often 
predicted what never befell; but one does not say 
that it was because astronomical facts were not 
even then subject to causal law, but simply because 
the astronomer was yet ignorant with regard to 
both facts and laws. So, one ought to say that the 
inability to foretell so complex a thing as what hu- 
man beings will do at a given time is due to our 
ignorance of the workings of law, not to its absence. 
The fact is that we do foretell in the main what 
men will do in very many circumstances, or human 
society would be impossible. There would be no 
business, no credit, no social institutions unless we 
could depend upon our faith in what men will do, 
knowing what sort of men they are. 

Such is the common argument of science against 
the possibility that man can choose his deeds so that 
he can truly say, "I might have done otherwise." 
And sober modern thought has tended to consider 
science's argument as conclusive or, in any event, 
baffling. So that most men that are scientifically 
trained find it difficult or impossible to find intel- 
lectual defense for freedom of choice, whatever their 
practical faith in its desirability and necessity. 

But I believe that the modern mind need not and 
should not relinquish its ancient faith so readily. At 
any rate, in a matter that so vitally affects all our 
outlook upon life and reaches to the very foundations 



of the moral order, we ought to make an effort to 
sift science 's argument very critically, with the same 
rigid logic that science itself endeavors to employ. 
And, applying such a rigid logic to the reasonings 
of natural science, I am convinced that it can be 
shown that science is in no position to disprove the 
immemorial freedom that common sense and the 
moral sense have ever insisted upon. 

Science's one and only argument against freedom 
of choice is that human choices cannot be free from 
external causal law without introducing an incal- 
culable and disturbing element into the physical 
world. But here arise two important questions that 
have too often been neglected; namely, Is it not 
conceivable that there are incalculable elements in 
the physical world? and, after all, Is it true that 
science would be destroyed if there were? There is 
a widespread belief that this is so; but startling as 
it may at first appear, critical reflection fails to 
vindicate this belief. 

For why is it not possible to have uniformities in 
a world that is not wholly uniform? Is it necessary 
to hold that unless all is ruled by mechanistic law, 
nothing is? This has been the position of many 
scientists. But is it not perfectly conceivable that 
one may have a pattern that is fixed once for all in 
many respects, and yet which has variable elements 
within it? Such is an architect's plan that makes 
certain fundamental prescriptions, and then allows 
many free alternatives within these prescriptions, 



all equally harmonious with the immutable aspects 
of the plan ; such is an art gallery, with the paintings 
capable of being continually and harmoniously 
changed ; such is a song that ever keeps its melody, 
but has many possible variations within it. The 
world is full of such fixed patterns with variable and 
alternative elements ; and the world itself may well 
be just such a pattern, where there is much funda- 
mental necessity, much uniformity, and also, within 
that necessity, much that is a matter of free alterna- 
tive. Thus, the law of gravitation is a fixed part 
of the fixed pattern of our physical universe ; yet it 
is entirely compatible with the law that I shall freely 
choose to stand up or to sit down, — since the fact 
that I choose (once granted) does not itself violate 
the law of gravitation in the least, and my standing 
up or sitting down will be in conformity to it in any 
event. To say that an action conforms to natural 
laws is not to say that it can be wholly accounted for 
by them. 

The conception of universal determination is a 
convenient one for science's special purposes; but 
the facts are never able to bear it out. Every pre- 
diction of science is a prediction with an "if"; and 
one of the certain "if's" involved is this: If man 
does not interfere. There are other "if-'s" too; 
I single out man merely because man's freedom 
happens to be our immediate subject of regard, as 
well as because science actually has most trouble in 
accounting for what men do by its ascertained laws. 



What men will do contains always uncalculated ele- 
ments. Events will naturally and necessarily hap- 
pen thus and so, if man does not intervene. This is 
precisely what we practically assume, even in a sci- 
entific laboratory. We create certain conditions 
which will certainly result in certain effects, — if 
some one does not meddle with the apparatus, or if 
some one does not upset the chemicals. And whether 
some one will choose to do this, science can never 
tell. It can say only that if some one does happen to 
take it into his head to spoil the experiment, even 
the spoiling of it will take place according to def- 
inite laws. That many things in nature act in cer- 
tain definite ways does not prove that man cannot 
freely use them, any more than the fact that a 
locomotive runs according to a certain mechanism 
proves that man cannot freely use it, if he uses it 
as it has to be used when it is used at all. Let it 
be thoroughly admitted that science may choose to 
ignore this human incalculability from the stand- 
point of theory; that for its convenience it assumes 
as its working hypothesis universal necessitation, in 
order to discover all the uniformities there are ; this 
is well. But this does not prove that everything, as 
a matter of actual fact, can be reduced to uniformi- 
ties, any more than the famous hypothesis of ether 
— purely a working hypothesis — proves that there 
is such a thing. Science may need and may use the 
hypothesis of universal determination in whatever 
form it pleases for its own special purposes. But 



a working hypothesis of this sort, a hypothesis of 
convenience for partial purposes, must not be con- 
fused with a reality. "But things act as though the 
hypothesis were true." I reply, "Things don't; for 
predictability is the only test; and up to now you 
do not successfully predict so far as man is con- 
cerned (omitting other exceptions here), nor is it 
possible for you now to prove that you ever can.'' 
If a man chooses to do this or that, science can say 
that he must do it in conformity to the laws of 
nature ; but whether a man will actually choose this 
or that, science can never tell. If science replies 
that it could tell if it knew enough, the whole ques- 
tion is begged. For how does science know what 
science could do if science knew what it does not 
knoivf One has just as much of a right to reply, If 
you knew all that natural science could know about 
a human being, you could not predict what he would 
do. Either position is based upon equal ignorance. 
The plain fact remains. Scientific prediction is 
continually upset by human interference. Astron- 
omy can more certainly predict an eclipse than a 
chemist can predict the results of a delicate experi- 
ment largely because astronomers know that their 
phenomena happen to be free from human interfer- 
ence. Wherever man has anything to do, the incal- 
culable sets in. Within regions where man acts, 
the sequence of scientific events is increasingly tenta- 
tive, and in direct proportion as man has anything 
to do with them. 




So far, then, as our outward acts are concerned, 
natural science can neither prove nor disprove that 
they are sometimes freely chosen by us. The very 
incalculability which such free choices would intro- 
duce into the physical world of science is actually 
found there; and only scientific dogmatism will ig- 
nore it by assuming as final the hypotheses that 
express the desire for a wholly mechanistic order 
of things. Emphatically, science does not disprove 
freedom of choice, so far as our physical deeds are 

But it has been already pointed out that all choice 
between our deeds really reaches back to a choice 
between our ideas of deeds. So that our real free- 
dom of choice has to do with what we choose to 
think or genuinely intend. Thus, at the last, it be- 
longs to the realm of psychology, rather than to 
physical science. We are now driven to the ultimate 
question, — whether psychology as a science can per- 
mit any such free choice between our thoughts. If 
it can, it has no difficulty in admitting freely chosen 
deeds; for practically all schools of psychology as- 
sume that our voluntary acts reach back to the states 
of consciousness that are either the occasions or 
causes of them. 

Like physical science, psychology assumes that 
her world is a world of uniformities, where no ex- 
ception can be allowed. Like physical science, she 



finds it highly useful to assume this, since it is 
psychology's business as a science to discover uni- 
formities; and she must not prejudice her task by 
assuming that here or there her task will be in vain. 
But, again, like physical science, the fact that her 
most convenient working hypothesis is determinism 
does not prove that every thought, every feeling, 
every volition is, as a matter of truth, the result of 
deterministic and calculable causes. Indeed, the 
psychologists do not succeed in reducing all that 
we think to laws of necessity. They fall far short 
of predicting what we shall think and, therefore, 
what we shall do. This is the ideal of psychology; 
but her ideal, worthy as it is, has never been attained 
and may never be attained. In psychology, even 
more than in physical science, there is thus far a 
vast region of the incalculable, as well as a goodly 
realm of ascertained uniformities. And this region 
of the incalculable lets in the possibility of freedom 
of choice. Thus thought so great a psychologist as 
William James: 

The fact is that the question of free will is insoluble cm 
strictly psychologic grounds. After a certain amount of 
effort of attention has been given to an idea, it is manifestly 
impossible to tell whether either more or less of it might 
have been given or not. . . . Had one no motives drawn 
from elsewhere to make one partial to either solution, one 
might easily leave the matter undecided. But a psycholo- 
gist cannot be expected to be thus impartial, having a great 
motive in favor of determinism. He wants to build a 
Science; and a Science is a system of fixed relations. Wher- 



ever there are independent variables, there Science stops. 
So far, then, as our volitions may be independent variables, 
a scientific psychology must ignore that fact, and treat 
of them only so far as they are fixed functions. In other 
words, she must deal with the general laws of volition 
exclusively ; with the impulsive and inhibitory character of 
ideas; with the nature of their appeals to the attention; 
with the conditions under which effort may arise, etc. ; but 
not with the precise amounts of effort, for these, if our 
wills be free, are impossible to compute. She thus abstracts 
from free will, without necessarily denying its existence. 
Practically, however, such abstraction is not distinguished 
from rejection; and most actual psychologists have no hesi- 
tation in denying that free will exists. 1 

Such a denial, however, is manifestly in the inter- 
ests of a special point of view and does not finally 
prove anything. We find psychology precisely in 
the same situation as physical science; it may not 
like freedom of choice ; it certainly cannot prove 
freedom of choice; but, just as certainly, it cannot 
disprove freedom of choice. 

But what is it in us that does this free choosing, 
regardless of previous events in the outer world, 
in spite of our previous character and of all the ex- 
periences that have tended to make us what we are 
up-to-date? Well, suppose we frankly say what 
common sense would say, that it is "I" that do the 
choosing, — the being that I call Myself. What then? 
Does psychology deny such a Self? Why, psychol- 
ogy has nothing to do with proving or disproving 
such a Self, what it is, or what it can do. This is 

1 William James, Psychology: Briefer Course, pp. 456, 457. 



the warning that any psychologist will state at the 
very threshold of his science; he does not deal with 
what we call the Self at all ; he deals not even with 
a Mind, — but only with passing mental states. 
Whether beneath or behind or above mental states 
there is a perduring Self, he knows not and cares 
not. It simply is none of his special affair. If he 
goes beyond his field and tries to disprove such a 
Self, he ever finds himself caught in contradictions 
from which logic can extricate him only by assum- 
ing that we are, including the psychologist, Selves, — 
as common sense and the predominant philosophies 
of twenty-three centuries have insisted. 

Assume, then, that it is this Self of ours that 
freely chooses; that it is this Self of ours that is 
really free. Are we challenged thereupon to ex- 
plain just what this Self is? Is it not enough that it 
is? That it must be assumed, even though not thor- 
oughly understood, just as science has often assumed 
entities, such as ether, although not thoroughly un- 
derstood? If philosophers insist that the ego that 
chooses must be entirely explained before they can 
accept freedom of its choice, then I reserve the same 
right to believe none of their philosophy until they, 
too, have cleared up just what the ego is. How many 
philosophies succeed 'in doing this? Further, why 
not say that from moral necessity we have learned 
one thing at least about the ego, — namely, that it is 
free? Perhaps this is the central thing about it! 
Indeed, if it is the essential precondition of all the 



other moral qualities of the Self, it is at least one 
of the central things. The other central thing is 
rationality, the ability to choose according to the 
standards of reason, which even science claims is 
one of the fundamental and inalienable demands of 
the human spirit. Freedom and rationality, these 
are the fundamental things that we need to know 
about the Self to make morals possible, — plus its 
immortality, which we have already argued. Yes, a 
Self, or ego, or person is precisely to be denned as 
that which is to be distinguished from mere things 
by its power of freely choosing, of morally creating 
its own life. In all our concrete living and thinking, 
we start with the ego rather than end with it: just 
as the famous philosopher Descartes found he had 
to start with it, since it was the one thing he could 
not doubt without contradiction. The trouble is that 
we try to get freedom as a conclusion from prem- 
ises ; whereas, it itself is the ultimate premise of all 
life conceived as a moral order. 


Science, neither physical nor psychological, can 
disprove freedom of choice. But this fact does not 
prove it, either. It merely makes it a possibility. 
And there is so much scientific prejudice against ac- 
cepting this mere possibility as something to which 
we shall finally commit ourselves, that before doing 
so we ought, in all fairness, to scrutinize one other 



conception of freedom that has been conscientiously 
offered as genuinely giving us moral responsibility 
and yet which, it is claimed, does not undermine the 
conception of absolute determinism, so desirable as 
a scientific hypothesis. 

This conception of freedom, which claims to be en- 
tirely within the spirit of science, urges that man is 
free in the sense that while all that he does is the 
product of necessity, his actions are not only the re- 
sult of causes outside him, but of causes within him. 
That is, he is free in the sense that what he does is 
not entirely the coercion of forces acting upon him 
from without himself. We are cautioned to remem- 
ber that it is not only the extraneous influence that 
acts upon one's character; but the person himself 
is to be accounted with ; he, too, reacts upon the ex- 
ternal influence, be it society or what it may; he 
is not merely the plaything of his environment; he 
helps mold his own future. And this is alleged to 
be the real meaning of human freedom. Science, 
we are told, would be stupid indeed if it entirely 
eliminated human "freedom" from the vocabulary 
and gave it no meaning whatever. Every individ- 
ual has a character of his own; his surroundings 
make him; but he, in turn, helps to fashion his sur- 
roundings, and reacts upon their influence. Thus, 
a man is free in so far as he has this cooperative part 
in his own destiny. "I choose," really means this: 
' ' I (my inner necessity) have a part in my decision. ' ' 
Can I say, "I might have done otherwise"? Yes, 



just so far as external compulsion is not the whole 

This conception of freedom has been influential. 
But, upon reflection, does it give man any freedom 
of "worth? It is difficult to see how it does. In this 
sense of freedom, even a star, an automobile, a 
snowflake is free, — free in the sense of having an 
inner as well as an outer necessity. Even a star 
moves in its orbit not merely because of the world 
of forces outside it, but because of its own mass, its 
own constitution as just this star. In this sense, it, 
too, helps to mold its own future. But this is the 
freedom of mere things. Surely, we discriminate a 
freedom of persons from that of mere things ! If 
one denies the reality of some such freedom, one 
robs freedom of all its moral significance. Man 
has no more moral responsibility than the star, for 
he has no more freedom than it. He can never say, 
"I might have done otherwise," but only "Oh that 
I had been such as to have had the power to have 
done otherwise!" 

But it is further urged that even within this 
conception man has a freedom that things have not. 
The difference is that man determines himself by 
conscious purposes. By such purposes, his life is 
made a unity, and all momentary decisions are 
subordinated to them. It is claimed that this capa- 
bility of ordering one's life by purposes is what 
we mean by the peculiar freedom of the human will. 

Will this freedom satisfy our moral demands? 



Does it make man in any sense responsible for 
what lie does? Surely not. For in this way, free- 
dom is made compatible with determinism only in 
the lamentable way in which, in the well-known lim- 
erick, the Lady of Niger became compatible with the 
tiger. Truly, determinism devours freedom. First 
one says that the individual has a character of his 
own; but in the same breath one asserts that this 
very character is the mere product of an evolution- 
ary process, so that a man's character is not ulti- 
mately his, but belongs at the last to the cosmic whole 
that made him. Then one adds that man is free be- 
cause he can determine his life by the idea of a 
purpose; but here, again, the crucial question is, 
What in the last resort determines this purpose? 
The reply is that it is determined by the character 
of one's heredity and environment; and the " inner 
necessity" of the individual is finally reduced to 
outer necessity. So that a man's purpose is not 
really his own, any more than he himself is his 

Thus, the determinist's desperate alternative to 
freedom of choice fails simply because it is a free- 
dom that vanishes as soon as it is analyzed, leaving 
nothing but freedom's empty name. The failure of 
this desperate alternative again throws us back upon 
freedom of choice itself as the freedom we want, the 
freedom we must have for a moral order; and the 
freedom we can readily have, so far as any final 
proofs against it are concerned. Even many of those 



who cling to the desperate alternative just reviewed 
admit that for a moral order one must have the 
sense of freedom of choice anyway, although one 
cannot really choose. Yes, one must have the sense 
of freedom of choice, even if things as they really 
are utterly belie it; for without it one can never 
feel the sense of moral responsibility absolutely es- 
sential to any sense of morals. And men must per- 
force have a sense of morals, a sense of good and 
bad, of right and wrong. To be a human being is to 
think in these terms ; to be a human being is to act 
with the sense of freedom of choice ; to survive mor- 
ally is to possess it. 

Accordingly, one may successfully challenge any- 
body who is a member of a moral order not to be- 
lieve that he has freedom of choice while he lives in 
the practical world of action and does not merely 
theorize. We all have to believe it practically, 
whether our abstract speculations approve it or not. 

One may assent to this. One may agree that one 
has to act as though he had freedom of choice ; one 
has to think that he is free to choose when he loses 
himself in the world of deeds. Yet one may add that 
the great question still remains, Has one the free- 
dom of choice he believes he has? Is it not only a 
necessary belief, — not a necessary truth? The an- 
swer is that it is indeed a necessary truth if ever 
there was any. For to say that one cannot help be- 
lieving a thing without contradiction is to have al- 
ready attained the ultimate test of all truth ! That is 



just what an -uncontrovertible truth is, — something 
that we cannot deny without contradiction! The 
moral aspiration is as real as we are real; it cer- 
tainly is as real as the aspiration for science is 
real; and if, as scientists, we may consider a hy- 
pothesis proved if to deny it is to make science im- 
possible; so, as moral beings, we may consider a 
hypothesis proved if to deny it is to make the moral 
life impossible. And freedom of choice is just such 
a hypothesis. It may be answered, "But universal 
determinism is just such a hypothesis too for 
science." So you have on your hands two contra- 
dictory hypotheses, equally proved! I answer: "I 
deny that universal determinism is a necessary hy- 
pothesis of science; I have already urged that the 
necessary hypothesis for science is that there are 
some universal uniformities in nature ; not that there 
is nothing but universal uniformities, — however con- 
venient it may be to assume so for science's special 

So the necessary hypotheses of science and of 
morals do not conflict ; one can conceive of a world 
containing scientific uniformities, and yet containing 
within it freedom of alternatives. But even if it 
unfortunately happened that freedom of choice con- 
flicted with the necessary hypotheses of science, and 
that we had thus the tragic choice between destroy- 
ing the moral life on the one hand, or scientific activ- 
ity on the other, which would we choose? I think 
that the last thing that we would relinquish is the 



reality of the moral life; for the moral meaning 
of life is the heart of its reality, and even science 
is one of the servants of its everlasting purposes. 
Still, if some one is so exclusively devoted to scien- 
tific hypotheses that he can see nought else in life ; 
and if he says: "We cannot bribe our convictions 
even by the fair world you have so fondly molded to 
your heart's desire. We cannot refuse truth because 
it shatters some dreams, or seems to bode us ill, or 
seems to infringe upon the ultimate reality of favor- 
ite conceptions. Yea, even should the truth destroy 
us, yet will we trust in truth!" If some one says 
this, I merely reply, "If the truster be slain, how 
then may he trust!" Truth that destroys every 
value of life betrays life; it is not truth, but a 


So far as nature is concerned, man may claim 
his freedom. But how can he be free from the will 
of God? This is an ancient question, and our argu- 
ment cannot conclude without meeting it. For the 
final solution of whether man is the master of his 
fate rests upon the nature of the total universe, of 
which man, with both his morals and his science, is 
but a part. Now, in the last chapter, the bolder 
outlines of a theory of the total universe were ven- 
tured. The Totality of Things was finally conceived 
as a Life, fulfilling itself through an infinite series of 



deeds that progress more and more toward the ideal 
that is the goal of every man. But the trouble we 
found at the end of our quest for God was that 
man's freedom seemed grievously imperiled. .If 
God is All, man is only a part ; and if only a part, all 
that he is and does seems to be absolutely determined 
by that Life which is not his, but which possesses 
and engulfs him. The theory we reached appears to 
reduce man to God, and so to lose man in God. It 
seems to belong to that interminable succession of 
philosophic views that find a solution of all problems 
in the One Reality, the One and Sole Being, the 
Absolute, that lies behind the innumerable and di- 
verse phenomena of the world, and thus determines 
all else either by its efficient causation, or by its own 
purpose ruling all things imperiously. If the indi- 
vidual is ultimately reducible to One and All, as 
such philosophies and some religions seem to imply, 
then there is only one being that is not extraneously 
determined, and that is the One and All, who alone 
is self-determined and free. Thus it seems that if 
we escape total determination by nature, we do so 
only by surrendering to a total determination by 
God. For try as you may to put man independently 
outside of God, you find logical- difficulties that are 
insuperable. All historic attempts of this character 
tend to reduce man back to God by principles latent 
in them; or, they end in irrational chaos, which is 
the same as reducing them to nought. This is not a 
solution of reality, but its dissolution. For human 



reason simply must think of the universe as a unity, 
and however you conceive of that unity, man, the 
mere part, seems to be helpless in its presence. He 
is not free. 

It is odd that men should argue thus. For sup- 
pose we fully admit that man is a mere part of the 
universal Life that is God? The question of the 
freedom of a part is not solved by merely calling 
attention to the fact that it is part of a whole. The 
vital question is, Just what is the relation subsisting 
between the part called man and the whole called 
God? There are several possible ways of conceiving 
this relation. If the relation is this, — that at some 
moment in some remote time God created and forced 
man to be what he is, of course man is not free. 
What he does is the result of what he was made; 
and for what he was made, God is to be held respon- 
sible. But suppose we avoid any such notion in 
whatever form it is put, and conceive of man as un- 
created and coeternal with and in God. In that case, 
man can no longer blame God for what he is, any 
more than God can hold man responsible for what 
He is. Neither created the other; both are from 
everlasting to everlasting, as our immortality as- 
serts. Nor am I lost in God; nay, in Him I find 
myself; for his Life is the Life I seek in my imper- 
fection. And I freely seek it; for I seek it from 
my own nature, for which no one else is responsible, 
since I, with all others, including God, always was. 
Yes, my will is indeed God's will; but my will can 



be the same as His without His will's being imposed 
upon me, just as His will may be mine, without mine 
being imposed upon God. No one other than 
myself is accountable for my deed ; the approval or 
disapproval of it is truly the praise or blame of 
myself as the preponderant source of it. I create 
my life. I realize myself in my own way through 
myself. Even the laws of nature are precisely the 
means and material of that total Life I seek, the 
Life that includes them and all that is. 

But one more question remains. How can free- 
dom of choice be if the total universe has to be 
thought of as a harmony, involving that each item 
in it, and so each deed that a man can do, no matter 
what, is exactly what it ought to be, since it be- 
longs to a rational whole where everything is in 
its place, where nothing can be otherwise, without 
marring the universe? Is it not true that, in the 
long run, even admitting life's countless sins — its 
lies and thefts and murders — each deed fits in with 
all the rest, so that freedom of choice would 
mean to change predestined deeds that belong 
just where they are in the universal scheme of 
things 1 

Well, suppose it to be true that the universal Life, 
when it is thought of as complete, does find a proper 
place for every deed that man has done. They 
can still be deeds that were freely chosen, can they 
not? — unless you hold that your universe can be 
made rationally harmonious only with a chain of 



certain particular deeds and no others'? But why 
not think of your universe as having alternative 
harmonies? The one fixed thing, morally, is that, 
in the long run, every deed, whatever it is, must be 
so adjusted to every other deed that, seen as a 
total, the universe at last is completely good in the 
final triumph of the right. But this does not mean 
that only certain deeds can be done in it and no 
others. It merely means that whatever deed I do 
freely choose, it morally obligates me to choose 
other deeds that go with it, if I am true to my 
moral ideals, as in the long run I must be. Thus, 
I can freely choose to keep my promise or to break 
it; but having once freely chosen, my other deeds 
shall relate themselves to this choice. If I freely 
break my promise, I must freely atone for it by 
deeds I would not have done had I been honorable. 
The moral universe is a world of progressive ad- 
justments and readjustments. My future life is 
partially determined by the choices I have already 
freely made. There is never a time when I can 
free myself from the choices of yesterday; and yet 
there is never a time when I cannot transfigure them, 
redeem them, by new choices. Our freedom extends 
even to the past. It is not true that our yesterdays 
are " irrevocable, " as we so often say. Even in 
nature, every succeeding event transforms and il- 
lumines the meaning of all events that happened 
before. The future is no more a product of the 
past than the past is the inexorable product of the 



infinite and free future. All belongs to the free and 
eternal choices still within man's power. 

"We cannot, indeed, recall the past that is behind any 
specific present; but it is only a past thus arbitrarily iso- 
lated that is fixed. The real past is a flowing whole, and 
we are forever pouring the future into the flood, through 
the gate of the present. Our past is really always changing, 
and it is we who initiate the change ; and so the past, though 
no part of it can be recalled, is perpetually being re-created 
and transformed, now for the worse, now for the better, as 
its whole goes on unfolding. But the whole it is within 
the compass of our freedom to bring into fuller and fuller 
harmony with our active vision of our Ideal, in which at 
source the freedom consists. 2 

A thief chooses to steal. The fact that he stole 
is a fact forever. It is irrevocable. But now he 
repents of his deed. And lo, the deed is no longer 
what it was; it is changed, transformed. It is no 
longer the deed of an unrepentant thief, as it was; 
henceforth, it is to be newly defined as the deed of 
a thief who repented. It was a repentant thief that 
the Nazarene forgave. 

The total universe will keep to its harmonious pat- 
tern in spite of our free choices, yes, because of 
them, for the simple reason that we men are not only 
fundamentally free, but fundamentally rational. 
This is the ultimate limit of all our freedom of 
choice, — that, in the final issue, we cannot and will 
not violate ourselves as rational beings that seek and 

'George Holmes Howison, The Limits of Evolution and Other 
Essays, 1st edition, pp. 379-380. 



demand a rational sum of all the thoughts and acts 
that make up life's infinite whole. 

As we grow older, it sometimes seems as though 
our past choices tyrannize over us more and more. 
"We are no longer so free as we were when we 
were young, with our decisive choices still unmade. 
And yet, in the deepest sense, if we have lived a 
growing life, our range of choices is becoming wider 
and more various with every day. For our knowl- 
edge of life is ever increasing, and life's alternatives 
are more numerous as our vision widens. The 
chances a wise man sees are more various than at- 
tend the narrower vision of youth. To grow is to 
become freer, not less free. Culture increases life's 
possibilities and our command over them. This 
wider freedom is infinitely in the future of every 


Our mastery of fate is in our hands. Our moral 
faith is secure. Our solution rests upon the moral 
interpretation of what science's total universe 
means ; what Grod. and man ultimately are, without 
challenging science's world of uniformities, so far 
as science has determined them, or needs them. And 
in making this interpretation, we have not en- 
croached unbecomingly upon a problem really be- 
longing to science ; for no science even pretends to 
interpret the universe in its totality. 



Finally, this solution is not the denial of determin- 
ism in the universe in the interests of freedom ; but 
it is the rational conciliation of determinism and 
freedom. One may be a determinist in all that the 
notion demands without waging an eternal warfare 
upon freedom, finding compatibility only by letting 
determinism devour freedom, as my saying was. 
"We can now see that extreme determinism and in- 
determinism both hang themselves, if given enough 
rope. Extreme determinism dissolves itself be- 
cause it contradicts every moral fact of man's 
nature. Extreme indeterminism likewise refutes it- 
self, for it turns out to be mere chaos. 

Every thoroughgoing investigation of the problem 
of freedom must inevitably lead to the somewhat un- 
familiar regions whither our search has led us, — to 
those ultimate and fascinating questions of the 
fundamental nature of human personality, and the 
final meaning of that great Nature which is our 
home. Short of facing these problems, the question 
of freedom can never be solved. And, viewing your 
world and yourself within the final meanings that 
we have uncovered, you will, if I am right, have 
come upon the heart and soul of the faith that makes 
for moral valor, — a faith that you are truly free 

By this main miracle that thou art thou, 

"With power on thine own act and on the world. 

These are your alternatives: morals with freedom 
of choice, or no morals. Take your choice. But 



remember, whichever way you choose, it is quite 
possible that you are exercising the very freedom of 
choice that we have been discussing. And in doing 
so, you shall be held morally responsible! 





Truth, like life, is "a dome of many-colored 
glass.' ' If one looks only at the separate colors of 
truth's infinite variety, one is lost in a detail that 
gives no total vision. Color by color, fragment by 
fragment, we have been finding life's truths, and 
have been busy putting them in their separate 
places. We may now survey the finished dome. 
When viewed in its completed wholeness, it not only 
stains but reveals, albeit dimly, "the white 
radiance" of life's meaning in its fullness. 

Through the contemporary conflict of ideals and 
its resulting moral skepticism we came upon a so- 
lution ; a solution that announced that the conflicting 
ideals of what men strive for do not really exclude 
one another, although they ever seem so to do ; that 
all these conflicting ideals imply a moral end which 
includes them every one, and transcends them every 
one ; that this all-inclusive ideal is to be regarded as 
the true moral standard that ever remains the same 
amid all moral change; that this ideal is the ex- 
pression of the imperative desire of all human 
beings that all human desires, so far as may be, 
shall be fulfilled, — the inalienable desire for total 



self-realization, for fullness of life. This is life's 
first, its fundamental verity. We further found 
that if this ideal is hut vaguely defined, it is hut 
natural, since part of our moral growth is the in- 
creasing definition of its goal as we advance. We 
also made it clear that since each partial ideal im- 
plies all the rest, the supreme need of men is the 
moral confidence to seek whatever ideal seems hest 
to each man, with the knowledge that if one seeks 
seriously and rationally any one of the ideals of 
moral manhood, he will emerge upon the others in 
due time; that what we need most of all, therefore, 
is precisely this moral faith, this undefeatable moral 
idealism that does seek without wavering and with- 
out betrayal. 

We soon discovered that this moral faith is not 
a simple thing for reasonable men. For such men 
it can be no matter of mere sentiment, but must be 
grounded in a large conviction of what man and 
his world fundamentally are. And in spite of the 
dogmatism of science, which at times has seemed 
to threaten man's every moral possession, and 
through a better understanding of science's limits 
and the logical rights of the moral order, of which 
science is only a part, we have come gradually and 
surely to the three verities that alone can give life 
a meaning without contradiction, — the three im- 
memorial verities of Immortality, God, and Free- 
dom, rescued from the reasons that have become 
faulty to the modern mind, and made newly cogent 



by reasons that meet an honest modern criticism. 
The truths that have fashioned so many great men 
and great civilizations rise again with renewed 
power to solve a new world's problems and to build 
a new world-order. 

But in spite of all that we have done, our vision 
is not yet intimate enough, warm enough, not yet 
near enough to our concrete life as we actually live 
it. "We must gather the truths that we have reached 
into a perspective that will appeal to the imagina- 
tion, relate it more directly to to-day's world, reveal 
the immediate obstacles to its realization, and dis- 
cover what actual tendencies toward it are present 
in our civilization, now rife with so many signifi- 
cant changes. 

For us men, the central, the most practical con- 
cern in any view of the world is what sort of being 
man himself really is. What is his significance in 
the scheme of things ? What are his ultimate worth, 
his chances, his legitimate hopes? In what light is 
he to regard himself when all is said and done? 

Fortunately, our study of the great verities has 
revealed a great deal about what man is and how he 
must henceforth think of himself if his civilization 
is to be made of reasonable service to him. Un- 
equivocally, it is in terms of these discovered truths 
of what men really are that all institutions of the 
new regime must be reformed and redirected. Just 
what, then, are these truths about you and me and 
all of us that we have gained, and that are to 



furnish the needed incentive for the efficient begin- 
nings of the ideal moral order ? 

Here it is that we come upon a momentous fact. 
These truths about the nature of men and society 
are no more or less than what are proclaimed by 
that greatest of modern movements called democ- 

For modern democracy, too, is fundamentally a 
vision concerning what men really are. It, too, an- 
nounces man's ultimate worth, his chances, and his 
legitimate hopes. And it does so by the distinct 
truths that all men are to be regarded as equal and 
free; as of infinite worth and capable of endless 
growth; as inalienably social; and as inalienably 
rational, the capable source of their own intellec- 
tual authority. 1 These are the fighting points of 
modern democracy. These, too, are precisely the 
truths about men that our study of the great verities 
has revealed and justified. 

Briefly, and viewing democracy's premises one 
by one, let us see that this is so. 

If democracy insists that men are to be regarded 
as capable of endless growth, never to be arbitrarily 
arrested by the barriers of caste or the closed doors 
of opportunity, so does the ideal moral order that 
the great verities have given us. "Whoever you 
are, to you endless announcements!" The very 
nature of the moral ideal already insists upon it, 
man's relation to God proclaims it, and man's ever- 

1 Cf. the author, The College and New America, pp. 126 ff. 



lasting chance is already affirmed in his immortality. 

If democracy proclaims men to be of infinite 
value, so does the moral order we have attained. 
If man is infinite in his moral reach, he is infinite 
in his moral worth, just as democracy knows him 
to be. For neither in democracy, nor in the moral 
order as we now see it, are men like commodities 
whose worth can be appraised. Rather are they 
that for which all values exist. That which is it- 
self the end or purpose of all uses cannot in turn be 
used and evaluated according to its use; that 
which is the measure of every value is not itself sub- 
ject to a measure of degrees of value. Now, this is 
exactly what men are; not things to be used and 
valued in finite degrees, but the ends for which all 
values exist, and so the criteria of all values. All 
men are thus of incalculable value, — this is the 
thesis of any genuine moral order. Under no cir- 
cumstances can they depreciate in terms of finite 
degrees of worth. 

This conception of the moral order is akin to 
Kant's famous conception of a Kingdom of Ends, 
in which every person is both citizen and sovereign. 
Such a conception further agrees with Kant in its 
fundamental distinction between persons and mere 
things; things may be used, but persons are to be 
revered as ends in themselves. This is the reason 
why human slavery of any sort is a contradiction; 
unless, indeed, one can successfully deny that the 
slave is a person ! 



If democracy asserts the great truth of man's 
essential equality, so does the view of life that our 
truths have so far given us. For both alike, just 
because each man is of supreme value, no man is of 
any more value than another. This is what we mean 
when we say men are equal. Speaking concretely, 
it is this truth that is the basis of the right of equal 
sovereignty. Equality before the law is also a 
corollary of it. Inequality of civil rights, the sanc- 
tion of any sort of special privilege (except for 
temporary expediency) would mean that not all men 
are of incalculable worth, but that some of them can 
be graded and rejected. Equality of worth also 
carries with it equality of opportunity, not only be- 
fore the institution of law, but before every insti- 
tution that the moral order creates. "I will accept 
nothing which all cannot have their counterpart of 
on the same terms." For the doctrine of equal pos- 
sibilities without that of equal opportunity would 
be a mockery. Professor Dewey insists, after 
Lowell, upon "the form of society in which every 
man has a chance and knows that he has it — and 
we may add, a chance to which no possible limits 
can be put, a chance which is truly infinite, the 
chance to become a person. Equality, in short, is 
the ideal of humanity." 2 President Butler also 
emphasizes the ethical obligation to give equal op- 
portunities to all, declaring that the true social order 

'John Dewey, The EtMcs of Democracy, p. 25. (University of 
Michigan Philosophical Papers, Second Series, No. 1.) 



cries, "All men up to the height of their fullest 
capacity for service and achievement." 3 

If democracy looks npon men as social by nature, 
with inalienable social obligations and rights, — i 
well, we too have found that each man's life includes 
the life of his fellows. For the ideal of the moral 
order has been revealed as the commonly shared 
ideal of all men, which unites them all in one com- 
mon purpose and makes the moral interest of all the 
interest of each and every one. 

And, finally, if democracy regards men as free, 
we too have come upon the real meaning of this 
same freedom in the power of each man freely to 
choose his life in some measure. This has been 
vindicated as necessary for moral faith, and has 
been guaranteed in such a way as to violate no 
proved scientific uniformity, lifting man to an as- 
sured place of moral accountability. Practically, 
any moral order must recognize this freedom, not 
only as man's possibility but as his overt right. 
Yes, the bounds of freedom must be steadily en- 
larged by removing all impediments to freedom of 
thought, of speech, of decision, so far as this is com- 
patible with the equal freedom of all men. And by 
opportunities of education this same freedom must 
grow constantly more rational and so more safe. 
For, with democracy, the moral order regards each 
man as fundamentally rational and so the capable 
and ultimate source of his own convictions. 

* Nicholas Murray Butler, True and False Democracy, p. 15. 



These truths, then, at which we have arrived turn 
out to be the supreme practical challenges of the 
day, not merely theoretical vagaries! For these 
very truths it is that we urge that democracy be 
made safe. The ideal moral order and democracy 
are one and the same. So that whether or not we 
agree with the reasonings that have led to the vision 
of the moral order, it is on our hands anyway in the 
name of democracy, the one world-ideal in which 
men now resolutely put their ultimate trust! Out 
of the great verities comes democracy. And this 
is fortunate. For the only guarantee of democracy's 
ultimate success is a downright faith that it is not 
only desirable, but the only justifiable moral order; 
that man and his world are fundamentally so made 
that democracy is the only reasonable choice. 

But this is only part of the truth about democracy 
as a moral order. For if the great verities call for 
democracy, it is equally a fact that democracy, in 
turn, calls strenuously for the great verities and 
includes them as an actual part of its practical pro- 
gram when democracy is made consciously complete. 
If the moral order is the verification of democracy, 
democracy itself, carried to its logical conclusion, 
becomes in turn the supreme vindication of the 
truths men live by! 

We cannot evade ultimate questions if we would. 
Carry the logic of the simplest truth far enough, 
and we arrive at the big questions with which great 
minds have lived since men began to seek what 



life means. Even the scientist often finds himself 
led by the logic of his physics, his astronomy, his 
chemistry, away from its narrow confines to where 
the larger questions await and imperatively call for 
solution, if only for the sake of his special science. 
He cannot speak daily of such things as Space and 
Time and Energy and Motion without being led 
some day, if he be a thoughtful man, to a consider- 
ation of their deeper nature and larger significance. 
So it is with the moral order called democracy. 

For instance, one cannot announce the measure- 
less capacities of democracy's man with full truth 
unless one is also willing to imply that possibility 
of infinite progress which we call immortality. The 
alleged social nature of democracy's man can be 
made finally intelligible only in a world where the 
moral ideal includes all one's fellows and is the same 
for all of them, — the ideal that has been shown to 
be the God of our struggle, in whom men verily live 
and move and have their being. One cannot suc- 
cessfully maintain the freedom of democracy's man 
unless one holds that at the last he is free from the 
compulsion that is resident in every view of the 
world that makes him the mere helpless product of 
physical causes, or of a "Will that engulfs him; and 
just this freedom of self-activity, expressed in a 
freedom of choice which renders us the masters of 
our fates, has been already interpreted and, I think, 
justified. One can insist without vanity upon the 
infinite and equal value of democracy's man only in 



view of those tilings that give him infinite value, — i 
his social inclusion of all, his underived nature, and 
his chance endlessly to achieve infinite values. 
Democracy's belief in the rational nature of man im- 
plies the rational nature of the world he seeks to 
conquer, and is itself a corollary of any real free- 
dom to conquer it. And the fullness of life that he 
finds himself seeking — a life transcending momen- 
tary desires and all narrower moral ideals — is vin- 
dicated only in the moral ideal whose abundance is 
the richness of God Himself, the Goal that includes 
every value for which men fight, that perfection of 
Truth and Beauty and Goodness which is the inter- 
pretation of all the genuine progress of civilization. 
Yes, the final vindication of the meaning of democ- 
racy's man is found only in the three great verities; 
of a surety, they are the truths he lives by! And 
of all the tendencies toward the concrete realization 
of these larger truths of democracy, the most im- 
portant is the tendency toward belief in them, be- 
cause such belief is logically and practically first. 
First of all, the Kingdom of Heaven must be within 
you, or you will never be able to project it into the 
world outside you. The progress of democracy must 
ever include a growing apprehension of what democ- 
racy is and implies. 

But if this is so, the practical question is whether 
democracy now exhibits any appreciable tendency 
toward such an understanding faith. And in 
answering this question, one resorts to those move- 



ments more intimately concerned with the things 
of the spirit, such as the literary, educational, and 
religious tendencies of our time. Of these three 
movements, the religious is obviously the most sig- 
nificant as naturally and almost exclusively en- 
trusted with a people's ultimate faiths. To this we 
now turn. 



Of the many ways by which men attain convictions 
concerning the moral order, the commonest is the 
religious way. In our everyday lives we see the 
world as a series of isolated events, often set over 
against each other in conflict. Religion furnishes 
what "the ideal unity of our consciousness demands, 
a perfectly harmonious and intelligible universe." 
There is a "want of completeness in our lives, a 
want of poetic justice in our fates. It is chiefly on 
this side that religion touches on ethics." 1 Or, as 
Perry expresses it in discussing the moral value of 
religion: "Religion promulgates the idea of life 
as a whole, and composes and proportions its 
activities with reference to their ultimate end. 
Religion advocates not the virtues in their severalty, 
but the whole moral enterprise." 2 

There is little doubt that religion owes its very 
rise as well as its continued existence to the need 

1 J. S. Mackenzie, Manual of Ethics, p. 444. 

3 Ralph Barton Perry, The Moral Economy, p. 253. 



for faith in the moral order. From one point of 
view — perhaps the best point of view — religion 
might be denned as faith in those great verities that 
make a moral order possible. Its origin comes of 
the oldest cry of reflective minds, doubtful amid the 
maze of events and the manifold mysteries of life, 
"What must I do to be saved!" Saved from what? 
Saved from the wrong and saved to the right; 
saved from the triumph of the bad and saved to 
the victory of the good. It means a cry for certainty 
amid uncertainty, a demand for verities that beget 
moral confidence. Of this demand have arisen all 
the significant faiths of religion; just as even an 
atheist, meeting a sudden crisis that for the first 
time reaches down to the very foundations of his 
being, may all at once find himself crying, de pro- 
fundis, i 1 my God ! ' T To say with Matthew Arnold 
that ' ' religion is morality touched with emotion ' ' is 
to say truth ; but the saying is made complete if we 
add that religion is morality inspired by a vision of 
life in its wholeness. "When first a human being, af- 
flicted with a conscience and doubtful of the right, 
yes, doubtful even of his fealty to the right, and 
facing the moral tragedy of his spirit, saved himself 
from moral oblivion by seizing boldly such ever- 
lasting verities as would preserve the world as a 
moral order, then was religion born. In this prac- 
tical way is it ever born, so far as it is a living 
faith. Religion is not at all a product of speculation 
or dream or sentiment; it may be false from crypt 



to spire, but it is the definitely practical outcome of 
man's most practical needs. 

It is with such a view of religion as the heart of 
moral faith that Tennyson presents the spiritual 
crisis of the reflective modern in the Two Voices. 
This poem is a debate within a man's soul between 
moral faith and modern scientific reason, faith in 
the moral order and the reasons that marshal them- 
selves against it. The voice of doubt cries, 

Thou art so full of misery 
"Were it not better not to be? 

Is man so wonderfully made ? In the boundless uni- 
verse, with its hundred million spheres, there are 
boundless better than man. Is each man priceless, 
since no two are alike ? Well, what makes us differ 
is only our differing defects. Shall we abide on earth 
to view truth's progress? But the goal of truth is 
endless and the passing seasons, yea, the millen- 
niums, make little difference in our futile search. It 
is better not to seek at all than "seem to find but 
still to seek." The youthful dream to fight the false 
is but a " stirring of the blood." 

Thus goes the debate in the man's soul. How does 
he solve his moral doubt? He has found some 
reasons for the integrity of his ideals through 
change and death, but they grant him no absolute 
conviction. What is it that finally brings moral con- 
fidence, the faith that makes life possible? Nothing 
but the ultimate need of it, which proceeds boldly 



to transcend all inconclusive theory. Leaving his 
vexed and futile musings, he opens his casement to 
the sabbath morn. He hears the church bells ring- 
ing. He sees men and women following their call, 
among them one who walks between his wife and 
child. And thus, facing the world of normal, prac- 
tical experience, a voice that solves his problems 
speaks within him ; a voice that says, assuring him, 
"I see the end, and know the good"; a voice that 
"may not speak" of what it knows, save that it is 
' ' a hidden hope. ' ' Faith in the moral order has been 
begotten of moral conflict. The great verities have 
been reborn of the moral demands of the spirit. 
This is religion. 

The religious way of obtaining moral confidence 
may be the wrong way and its customary beliefs 
erroneous. But however that may be, religion is 
to be regarded as ultimately the direct outcome of 
a moral demand, and is to be justified fully in terms 
of morals and only in terms of morals. Historically, 
and even now, religion often misses this truth. But 
the moment that it forgets that its main service is 
for the triumph of righteousness and not for the 
triumph of mere doctrine, that moment it degener- 
ates into formalism, dogmatism, and fruitless- 

The close relation between these religious verities 
on the one hand and moral confidence on the other is 
shown by the marked reciprocal influences of religion 
and morals in every age. The purification of one 



means the purification of the other. Their fortunes 
are inextricably related. "Religion is a conserva- 
tive agency, yet a new religion often has a power- 
ful influence on moral development. ' ' 3 The heavens 
of the religions are reflections, however remote, of 
the ideals of life held by those who believe in them. 
Contrast the heaven of Mohammedanism with that 
of Christianity, and one has a key to the much 
deeper contrast between their moral conceptions of 
what life should be. The attributes of God that any 
age vitally sanctions are expressions of the attri- 
butes it approves as great in its men and women. 
The gods of Greece were only Greeks of more titanic 
mold. This is not to say that the gods are man- 
made, whatever that may mean; but that the God 
of a religion is likely to be the supreme expression 
of the moral ideal of its time and tends profoundly 
to influence moral ideals in turn. Is God conceived 
to be the only ultimate reality, as in some Oriental 
religions? Then, morally, one will find that the in- 
dividual ceases his futile strivings, annihilates his 
desires, and makes his moral goal the losing of him- 
self in the infinite sea of Being. On the other hand, 
is God thought of not as engulfing us, but as the 
one perfect self in a democracy of souls ? Then the 
moral ideal of the individual urges him not to lose 
himself, but to fulfill himself to the utmost. The 
life of the ancient Hebrews was a conspicuous ex- 
ample of the close interrelation of morals and re- 

1 Dewey and Tufts, Ethics, p. 81. 



ligion. The Hebrew covenant was primarily a re- 
ligious covenant ; but it had an immense significance 
for the moral development of the Hebrew people. 
The central conceptions of Christianity are con- 
sidered worth while in terms of their power to make 
for righteousness. Jesus is not primarily a theo- 
logical dogma, but a moral ideal; his "kingdom" is 
not so much a theory to be believed as a goal to be 
sought. And not only do the beliefs of a religion 
mold the morals of its period, but the moral ideals 
of a time vitally remold its religion. 

It is for these reasons that, in the last resort, faith 
in a moral order, even that of democracy, means a 
religious faith. It is the eventual recognition of this 
yet unappreciated fact that is to transfigure the re- 
ligion of this Western World. World-old is the sup- 
position that one may be moral and yet not be re- 
ligious. Centuries old is the counter plea that moral- 
ity is religion. Immanuel Kant showed that to be 
good and to be religious are one and the same thing; 
and this was the sane plea of our own Emerson's 
gospel in song, in essay, and in life until he was laid 
to rest under that mountain rock. His most in- 
dignant objection to the religion of his day was that 
it should even dream of divorcing religion from 
morality. Slaveholding to him was immoral; so a 
slaveholding religion was to him a most pitiable 
thing. He commended Theodore Parker most of all 
for insisting, as he had insisted, that the very es- 
sence of Christianity is practical morals. "Mere 



morality," some of the theologians exclaimed; but 
back came Emerson's keen thrust, ''Men talk of 
'mere morality,' which is much as if one should say, 
'Poor God, with nobody to help Him.' " He ex- 
claims in his essay on Poetry : ' ' The moral law lies 
at the center of nature and radiates to the circum- 
ference. It is the pith and marrow of every sub- 
stance, every relation and every process. ' ' " He felt 
and repeatedly proclaimed that "the sentiment of 
virtue is the essence of all religion. ' ' 4 


If the religion of a people must not be abstracted 
from the moral order for which it exists, but must 
be the adequate sanction and justification of that 
order, an important question confronts us : How far 
can one honestly say that the religious tendencies of 
to-day are toward a rational moral faith, — toward 
democracy and the verities that make it reasonably 

It is an immediately significant fact that the re- 
ligious institution itself has been caught between 
our age's contradictions until it has had to struggle 
for its very life. We have spoken of the current 
contradictions of reason and faith, pragmatism and 
idealism, hedonism and sacrifice, individualism and 
social responsibility. Well, these contradictions 

* Vid. the author, The Religion of Emerson, Sewanee Review, 
April, 1920. 



may have nothing else in common, hut they all agree 
in attacking current religion, each in its own way. 
Thus, from the standpoint of reason, religion is cur- 
rently criticized as irrational, dogmatic, antagon- 
istic to science, and, at any rate, remote from the 
other intellectual interests of mankind; from the 
standpoint of faith, it is criticized as halting, un- 
aggressive, living in the past, and lacking the large 
spirit of the divine adventure. From the standpoint 
of the practical, religion tends to be regarded as 
useless, a mere theology and creed, with no vital 
and practical influence upon the currents of pres- 
ent-day life; from the standpoint of idealism, non- 
progressive and reactionary. By the hedonist, 
traditional religion is looked upon as enjoining 
meaningless sacrifice, mortification of the flesh, and 
as denying the modern conception of fullness of life ; 
by the spirit of sacrifice, as too hedonistic, saving 
the soul to a heaven whose inducement is happiness, 
a second-rate motive. To the individualist, the cur- 
rent institution of religion appears tyrannical, en- 
croaching upon his sacred liberty of thought ; to the 
earnest social reformer it seems indifferent to social 
issues of moral import, engrossed in the selfish busi- 
ness of saving individual souls and, so far as it is 
social at all, expressing the class spirit, exclusive, a 
sort of social club with no well planned social enter- 
prise or appeal. Caught between these merciless 
contradictions is the religious institution of to-day 
until it is made to appear as much of a mass of 



paradoxes as is the age that evaluates it and finds 
its own faults in it! 

When the great verities are challenged thus 
through their chief institution, the challenge cannot 
be ignored. It presents a problem that must be 
solved, else the great verities perish ; or, at any rate, 
the great organization that has so zealously guarded 
them will fall into disrepute among intelligent men. 
Religion has not made the fatal mistake of ignoring 
the challenge ; but its leaders have very often fallen 
into an error almost equally disastrous, — that of 
naively regarding these contradictory criticisms as 
imperative " demands of the times," and of attempt- 
ing straightway to fulfill them. The attempt is dis- 
astrous because these imperative demands are in- 
deed contradictory demands, and any attempt to 
meet them naively breeds still more contradiction. 
Further, the attempt to formulate religion according 
to the "demands of the times," if carried out too 
literally, means that religion loses its proper func- 
tion ; instead of being the vanguard of civilization, it 
is degraded into the position of a mere camp fol- 
lower. The business of religion, with its great 
verities, is not to adapt itself to civilization so much 
as to transform it. But so far as religion has lately 
attempted to meet the world, it has tended to over- 
adapt itself to its environment; and, alas, the at- 
tempt to satisfy all its critics pleases none. For in- 
stance, in meeting the demand for religion's rational 
revision upon a scientific basis, men have come peril- 



ously near to losing their faith in the eternal values. 
In attempting to be practical, religion has tended to 
lose its spirituality. In recognizing the rights of 
the pleasures of this life, religion has tended to lose 
the old heroic loyalties. And in answering the cry 
for individual liberty, religion has tended to elide 
the imperatives of the social conscience. Men have 
met these contradictions with too little analysis 
of what they mean; the result is more contradic- 
tions, which can satisfy no one of the standpoints of 
criticism because the attempt has been made un- 
critically to satisfy them all. The problem has been 
falsely conceived ; so the solution has solved nothing. 
The challenges of our time must be met in a new 
way, not only by religious institutions, but by all 
men and women to whom the moral order and its 
insistent verities are real. The task is not to meet 
these conflicting tendencies of our age severally 
and separately, but to analyze them and solve them 
by an interpretation of life that conciliates them 
until they vanish in a new moral vision. Only thus 
will the great verities, as well as the men and insti- 
tutions that guard them, cease to be apart from to- 
day's world and become an intimate portion of its 
inner life. Our previous discussions make it clear 
how this is to be done with reference to the conflict 
between hedonism and sacrifice as well as to that 
between society and the individual. But the cur- 
rent conflict between reason and faith, which has 
been one of our central problems, is the one that 



religion must now especially face as a condition of 
any further usefulness. 

Reason and faith have been warring so long and 
so bitterly that they seem to be inherently irrecon- 
cilable. Their interests have been different, their 
motives at variance, and their methods mutually 
contradictory. Yet a logician, unprejudiced by tra- 
dition, will see no reason why they should be ever- 
lastingly separated and at conflict. One's reason 
and faith are indeed eternally separated on the con- 
dition that one 's reason is dogmatic, ignorant of its 
nature and limits, and that one's faith insists upon 
being blind. And, as we have shown, human reason 
has been abundantly dogmatic, especially within the 
era dominated by modern science. This dogmatism, 
as we have seen, has shown itself in the assumption 
that reason and natural science are synonymous; 
that what scientific demonstration cannot prove is 
thereby outside proof. But our discussion has re- 
vealed the mistake of this assumption; when crit- 
ically challenged, it breaks down. Natural science 
is not all of reason; there are facts other than the 
physical facts of natural science, and there are other 
methods just as cogent as its methods of gaining 

And if scientific reason does not need to be dog- 
matic, neither need faith be blind. What do we 
mean by faith in the last analysis'? The essence of 
faith is confidence in and loyalty to certain ultimate 
truths deemed necessary for life. So the chief ob- 



jects of faith are what are required to make a moral 
order possible, namely, the moral ideal, Immortal- 
ity, God, and the Freedom of the Soul. Now, one's 
faith in these verities may be blind in one of two 
senses; it may be a faith that contradicts known 
facts, or it may be a faith which, while not contra- 
dicting any known facts, possess no positive rea- 
sons to support it. Faith concerns itself with 
" things unseen";, but it must be an "evidence" of 
things unseen; and for the things it hopes for, it 
must offer some substance ; never may it be a mere 
assumption grasped from the upper air. Already it 
has been shown how faith in the great verities may 
find its reasonable evidences without contradicting 
a single fact or law of science. Even science itself 
has such faiths, the loyalties to its assumptions, 
hypotheses in harmony with every scientific fact and 
law, or they would not be legitimate hypotheses ; yet 
assumptions not proved by the facts so far ascer- 
tained; pleading as their only proof that if they 
were not, science could not be. This is faith, but it 
is not blind. So we find a new concept that is 
neither dogmatic reason nor blind faith, namely, the 
concept of Rational Faith, — a faith in harmony with 
reason, and interpretive rather than destructive of 
the meaning of science. Indeed, we can go further 
now. Faith merely by itself, or reason merely by 
itself each contradicts not only the other, but itself ! 
For reason, as in science, needs its great assump- 
tions of faith before it can begin; and faith needs 



its reasons before it has a right to speak. The 
ancient contradiction is solved, and each side of the 
contradiction is immeasurably enriched. With such 
a conception regnant within it, religion is no longer 
caught between two fires that destroy it ; it no longer 
sins against either faith or reason, for it answers its 
critics with the Eational Faith that conciliates both 
in a new outlook upon life. 


And now to revert to our original question: How 
far can one truly say that the religious tendencies 
of our day are toward faith in the moral order as 
we have defined it, — toward that democracy which 
issues at last in the great verities, and without which 
these same verities are practically useless? 

Take first democracy's doctrine of the priceless 
worth of men. The religious tendency has some- 
times seemed utterly out of sympathy with this 
characteristically Occidental view. It has often ap- 
peared to submerge the individual and to depreciate 
him. Yet, in spite of this, the plain tendency of 
religion to-day is toward an emphasis upon the dig- 
nity and worth of the individual human soul, whose 
value is regarded as such that it would not profit 
a man to exchange it for the whole world. This new 
evaluation of the individual by religion is shown by 
the increasingly larger freedom and responsibility 
accorded him, yes, thrust upon him, in the name of 
religion itself. The individual no longer is so pas- 



sive in his piety; his salvation depends more upon 
himself and npon his own deeds. Thus, the pulpit 
of to-day emphasizes ethics as the thing to he 
preached in the name of religion, rather than doc- 
trine and ceremonial. This tendency toward an 
ethical interpretation of religion, which emphasizes 
the individual's cooperative part in his own salva- 
tion to righteousness, was already beginning when 
this generation was young. Bryce, scanning our re- 
ligious institutions a number of years ago, said: "It 
is hard to state any general view as to the substance 
of pulpit teaching, because the differences between 
different denominations are marked; but the tend- 
ency has been, and daily grows alike among Con- 
gregationalists, Baptists, Northern Presbyterians, 
and Episcopalians, for sermons to be less metaphys- 
ical and less markedly doctrinal than formerly, and 
to become either expository, or else of practical and 
hortatory character. ' ' 5 Emile Faguet, writing in 
Les Annates of the various sects in America, could 
say, "They may be innumerable, but they are all 
alike," meaning by this that while their doctrines 
vary surprisingly, their public teachings agree in 
being predominantly practical, and may be reduced 
almost to moral teachings and, particularly, moral 
actions. The very fact that some people nowadays 
give as an excuse for not attending or joining the 
church, the alleged uncertain conduct or hypocrisy 
of a few church members, is a significant indication 

■ James Bryce, The American Commonwealth, Chap. CXI. 



of how closely true religion and the individual's re- 
sponsibility for his own life are associated in the 
public mind. 

This same democratic importance of the individ- 
ual is shown by the increasing freedom accorded him 
to think his own religious thoughts. Not only has 
the old intolerance given way to tolerance, but men 
are actually being encouraged to think out their own 
convictions as a right, not as something to be mere- 
ly passively or grudgingly permitted. Of late there 
has been a notable decline in the number of trials 
for heresy, due to this same new note of freedom; 
and the growing fellowship among religious bodies, 
Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and others, means like- 
wise a partial surrender to the inevitability, if not 
the desirability, of differences in a nevertheless 
common religious aim. This fellowship was at no 
time more marked than during the stress of the 
recent war, when all kinds of religions learned a 
new tolerance in a new and splendid practical co- 
operation. I have a letter before me from a French 
Catholic priest to an American Protestant, both of 
whom worked together close to death ; a letter which 
asks a very great question simply, "In this war, 
should we not consider ourselves as brothers'?" and 
which concludes with the wish for the "union of our 
prayers in the heart of Jesus." This is only one of 
the whispers of a world of voices struggling for 
one utterance. 

But this tendency toward the democratic freedom 



of the individual does not go so far as to contradict 
democracy's other doctrine of the rational responsi- 
bility of the individual. Freedom is not to be the 
freedom of caprice. The abstract freedom that in- 
sists upon liberty to think in religious matters, and 
then which ingloriously fails to think at all, has be- 
come too notorious, and is being convicted of its 
emptiness. Free thought means not only freedom 
to think, but the thinking itself; and the responsi- 
bility of the individual to clarify his religion in 
terms of democracy's reason is evincing itself every- 
where in the institutions of religion. Mere dogmat- 
ism is passing away; the concept of faith is being 
purged of its credulity; religion is becoming less 
remote from other intellectual pursuits and more 
in sympathy with important secular movements; 
the intellectual training of the religious leader 
is being more stressed as higher education has as- 
sumed a new importance. Religion is being studied 
and interpreted in terms of philosophy, psychology, 
and comparative religion; the old antagonism to 
natural science is being replaced by a new adjust- 
ment to its verified truths; the helplessness before 
the seeming destructiveness of science is giving way 
to a new counter challenge to science's dogmatism, 
in so far as it has invaded matters on which it 
legitimately has nothing to say; and religion is be- 
ginning, through its more educated and expert lead- 
ers, to assert its right to such logical methods and 
conclusions as justify themselves and adjust them- 



selves fully to the accepted truths of scientific re- 
search. Although not yet obtrusive, this is one of 
the most hopeful tendencies in current religious 

JSTot only is the religious tendency strongly toward 
these democratic doctrines of the pricelessness of 
men, their freedom, and their rationality, but to- 
ward the recognition of their measureless possibili- 
ties, another doctrine of democracy. There was a 
time easily within remembrance when this was not 
so; when religion still persisted in expressing itself 
chiefly in repressing human nature; when it was 
negative rather than positive; retroactive rather 
than progressive. But now the overwhelming tend- 
ency is toward fullness of life, as not only an im- 
perative of democracy, but of religion itself. This 
is the inevitable result of the character of our mod- 
ern civilization; but especially is it the result, first, 
of the new emphasis upon the character of Jesus, so 
far as the Christian world is concerned, — upon 
Jesus as a life that encourages endless self-realiza- 
tion; it is the result, second, of the versatile stimu- 
lus of a many-sided life such as modern times afford ; 
and, third, of the widespread concept of evolution. 
How this concept has widened men's vision, even un- 
awares, and transformed their outlook upon life, — a 
life that has gained through it an immeasurable past 
and an immeasurable future ! To the modern man, 
accustomed to thinking of that long evolutionary 
process, out of whose dim potentialities the life of 



the present came into being, there seems to be in 
this very "infinite detail of preparation" a "guar- 
antee of ineffable achievement. ' ' 6 Even religion 
has begun to enter into the spirit of the infinite ad- 

And, further, the social responsibilities of democ- 
racy are now assuming an all-absorbing place in the 
religion of to-day's world; to such an extent, in- 
deed, that religion is becoming an essential factor in 
the socializing of democracy's man. In spite of 
the class spirit still lingering in some religious insti- 
tutions, in spite of some prevalent notions of salva- 
tion in terms of egoistic hedonism, the main cur- 
rents are toward a recognition of social issues of 
moral import and a reaction against these very 
things that have kept religion from concerning it- 
self with the temporal crises that justly claimed its 
ethical regard. The books on the social mission of 
religion are becoming so numerous that no one man 
could read them all. The salvation of the- individual 
soul has become merged with the salvation of so- 
ciety. The cry of devout men is becoming surpris- 
ingly like that of the challenge of an important char- 
acter of a modern novel, "What doth it profit a man 
if he save his own soul and lose the whole world, 
caring nothing for its agony, making no struggle 
to help in its woe and grieving!" 7 

"David Starr Jordan, The Religion of a Sensible American, p. 25. 
T Frances Hodgson Burnett, The De Willoughby Claim. 



But although the religious tendencies of to-day 
are strongly toward an awareness of democracy as 
a moral order, there is yet much lacking in definite 
tendencies toward the clarification of the three great 
verities which such an order implies and demands, 
faith in which it is religion's very especial business 
to inspire and sustain. Bold and rational sanctions 
for these truths men live by are not yet sufficiently 
forthcoming. Clear thinking concerning God, 
Freedom, and Immortality, which is now demanded 
by the world's newly awakened moral and religious 
yearnings, has not yet definitely begun. These veri- 
ties are still too vague, too unrelated to each other, 
and altogether too timid for the valorous moral 
faith that the world in general and democracy in 
particular now sorely need. For instance, even 
many of the rationally emancipated still find them- 
selves in Emerson's strange predicament of having 
on their hands a conception of God that will in no 
way square with the equally important insistence 
upon human freedom and responsibility. In one 
breath, God is all and does all, and men are merged 
in the ' i Oversoul, ' ' in such a way that ' ' our painful 
labors are unnecessary and fruitless"; in another 
breath is championed the kingliness of the human 
spirit, in an undefeatable self-reliance that cries, 
''Stand back! this infant soul must learn to walk 
alone ! " In the same way, immortality is yet hardly 


more than a splendid dream, practically unrelated 
to an understood moral ideal for which men strive 
here and now. And both scientific and religious dog- 
matism have obscured the problem of freedom al- 
together, until most men are helpless before it. 

This lack of intellectual earnestness with the great 
verities is due to the want of insight into their really 
practical importance; to the impression that, from 
a rational point of view, science has made us more 
or less intellectually helpless to justify them; and to 
the want of a sufficient number of intellectual ex- 
perts in religious movements who are able to chal- 
lenge unbelief and inconsistency with a bold and 
comprehensive logic. So the result is that con- 
temporary religion does not yet furnish an adequate 
sanction for democracy's ethical ideals. But even 
here the encouraging thing, the significant thing for 
the future of both religion and democracy, is that the 
religious institution is unquestionably tending to- 
ward democracy's conception of a moral order, 
which, in turn, implies those verities not now suffi- 
ciently evident, and which will eventually and im- 
peratively demand their increasing definition. 

The natural overemphasis upon the physical 
sciences and their tyranny over all the categories of 
life is on the wane, although it is still arrogant 
enough and dogmatic enough to need constant re- 
futation by a logic precise and merciless. Many 
men, in the name of science, but without the sanc- 
tion of most scientists, still insist upon distorting 



scientific fact and law from their place as servants 
of life's ideals to dictators of what these ideals shall 
be, to the imminent destrnction of the moral order 
and the logic of its own outraged facts. But such 
irrational dogmatism cannot last forever. The im- 
memorial empire of reason will not he downed by 
the revolt of one of its provinces ; for. unlike revolts 
within nations, the over-assumptions of science can- 
not win by their sheer force, but must submit to the 
verdict of that very reason which science itself es- 
pouses. "What this verdict is it has been the ven- 
ture of this book to show. The philosopher, the 
poet, and the prophet are only momentarily expelled 
from civilization; they are already coming again to 
their own, purged of the follies that made the usur- 
pations of science a triumphant fact. The serious 
and capable philosopher never found a world more 
receptive of what he has to say of the nature of 
man and his universe than is to-day's world of men, 
made eager for ultimate truths by the perplexing 
human problems that cry for some solution beyond 
merely temporary expedients. The poet, who lately 
felt that the world had slipped utterly from him, 
and that its ear was no longer attuned to any music 
but the music of the hammer and forge, now finds 
a world listening for the rhythm of life's deeper 
meanings ; and the human atmosphere is sentient 
with the songs of a new springtime of civilization. 
Literature during and since the World "War is rife 
with these signs of a brooding thought prophetic of 



larger perspectives. But it is to the prophet of re- 
ligion that men's souls are looking most; for it is 
ever through religion rather than through philos- 
ophy and poetry that the average man finds his way 
to the truths we live by. The predictions of the de- 
cline of the religious institution are even more 
fatuous than the confident assertions that science 
had permanently crowded poetry and philosophy out 
of civilization. For the necessity of the religious 
institution is based upon the social nature of the 
moral adventure and of religious faith, which ever 
brings men together for the serious contempla- 
tion, discussion, and achievement of its cooperative 
ideals. Lite any other institution, its perennial 
necessity is founded upon the perennially social 
nature of democracy's man. Once it has come to 
a thorough self-consciousness of its ethical purpose 
and of the specific place of religion in that purpose ; 
once it has thoroughly adjusted itself rationally and 
whole-heartedly to the secular currents of life that 
so pitifully require the great verities, it will dis- 
cover hosts of men, who now think of themselves as 
heretics and outcasts, ready to join hand and soul 
in its enterprises, at last made consonant with 
democracy's own. 



That the great verities will find their ultimate 
triumph in present-day civilization depends upon 
whether the modern mind is capable of bridging the 
artificial chasm it has created everywhere between 
what it calls the merely "theoretical" on the one 
hand and the "practical" on the other; whether it 
can apprehend thoroughly that any great truth is a 
truth to live by, or it is not truth at all; that all 
"practicalness" but gropes and stumbles that knows 
not the truth that clarifies. The prevalence of this 
artificial separation of the theoretical and the prac- 
tical is obvious enough. The aversion of the con- 
temporary man to "mere theory" is proverbial. The 
current test of a man's value is said to be not what 
he "knows," but what he can "do." This is also 
the stubborn test of the worth of any community. 
We believe in education ; but we say that it must be 
an education for practical life, or it fails. Thus, 
the increased place of the applied sciences and of 
vocational training. As we have seen, even religion 
finds that it must submit itself to the same practical 
test if it is to make itself felt in the world. So, in 
America, discussions of theology tend more and 



more to be abandoned for discussions concerning 
the concrete life. It has already appeared that this 
practicalness of American life tends to be material- 
istic. Success of persons as well as of communities 
tends to be computed upon a basis of rqaterial out- 
put and intake, something one may add up in a 
column of figures. So that the contradiction be- 
tween the theoretical and the practical tends to be a 
conflict between the practical man and the idealist. 

The practical man and the idealist, — how they 
have spurned one another and fought one another in 
every age! It sometimes seems that the most sig- 
nificant difference in the tempers of men is their 
natural allegiance to one side of this contradiction 
or the other. There are ever the dreamers on the 
one hand, and the men of affairs on the other. Their 
creeds, their views of life, seem to be in utter con- 
flict, hopeless, irreparable. Yet critically seen, the 
conflict is not so real as it appears, and it arises, as 
do many wars, from a misunderstanding. 

For observe, what we call the "practical" con- 
cerns itself with what is actually to be done here and 
now, and with what utilities shall be mustered to 
get imperative deeds accomplished. It has to do 
with the great problem of i ' efficiency. " It is know- 
ing what to do next and how to do it. But it is 
stupid to suppose that one can know what to do next, 



and next, and next, nnless one has a purpose to be 
achieved by all these deeds, — what we call an ideal. 
In other words, to have a rational ideal and to be 
practical must go together. The reason why there 
has been such a notable conflict in the past is that 
some so-called idealists have persisted in proposing 
ideals that were mere dreams, visions not sufficiently 
based upon the possibilities of "human nature and 
of things as they are. They have been ''visionary." 
Or, idealists have often been content to proclaim 
ideals without sufficient scrutiny of the ways and 
means of attaining them. Or, they have been so lost 
in the rapt contemplation of the ideal that they 
have unwisely and impossibly demanded its full defi- 
nition, yes, even its full realization here and now, 
forgetting that all sure progress is a procession of 
slow but surely advancing compromises. Such men 
have earned the name of radicals, and they are ever 
heroic ; but their heroism tends to be more spectacu- 
lar than effective; it is a bravery that is not tem- 
pered by the deeper bravery of patience, the hardest 
virtue of all. 

On the other hand, the temper of the idealist has 
been antagonized by the pragmatist's overweening 
insistence upon an efficiency that lacks a sufficient 
insight into the ends that efficiency must serve. Ef- 
ficiency has been valued as a thing worth something 
in itself, as a god in its own right. Or, the prag- 
matist has made his goals and purposes too im- 
mediate, too temporary; they have not reached far 



enough into the future; they have tended to he of 
the earth earthy, and so merely prudential. 

But these mistakes do not need to he forever com- 
mitted by reasonable men, especially when the prac- 
tical concerns of civilization depend upon coming to 
a mutual understanding. The moral ideal that has 
gradually revealed itself in these pages does not 
make the fatuous error of trying to define itself in 
its full detail all at once ; knowledge of it is a slow 
growth, and advance toward it is through one step 
at a time, with the patience of faith in the everlast- 
ing progress that it demands. It does not im- 
patiently deny this world and the present deed, but 
rather interprets them. It is not a mere dream 
or vision contrary to fact ; it is an immortal purpose 
born of the facts themselves, without which the facts 
are morally meaningless. The pragmatist's love of 
efficiency for its own sake and his too temporary 
purposes need a sound idealism for their correction. 
In the last issue, this truth comes to one forcefully 
in contemplating the type of man that the race most 
approves in its saner moments. Take two men of 
history, one of whom embodies the practical temper, 
touched with merely temporary purposes, and the 
other the sanely idealistic temper, — as Napoleon and 
Jesus. I speak of the latter humanly, not theolog- 
ically, and I choose these men because they are so 
familiar. One sees them very near together beneath 
the proudest dome in Paris ; the one surrounded by 
his battle-flags; the other, just above, beyond the 



church door, upon his cross. As the light from the 
stained window fades, and you stand there in the 
twilight, a question knocks at the door of your soul, 
Which, in the long stretch of centuries by which all 
things and all men are judged, was the more prac- 
tically efficient, this Corsican or this Nazarene? 
Everybody well knows. The empire of the one fell 
to chaos long ago ; the democracy of the other is 
growing larger day by day. Over the tomb of the 
Corsican the traveler bends his head in melancholy 
meditation; up, up toward the life of the Nazarene 
the millions struggle with glad faces through the 

The chief difference between the great men and 
the small men, the great civilizations and the small 
civilizations, is that the former will tolerate no 
hiatus between convinced thought and effective deed. 
Theirs is a Practical Idealism that is neither the 
traditional, shortsighted practicalness, nor the tra- 
ditional futile dreaming; a Practical Idealism in 
harmony with the practical, but interpreting and 
soberly testing its real efficiency. Such men and 
civilizations live the truth they find, make real their 
ideals, and make ideal all their realities. We must 
spread the conviction abroad in some way until it 
becomes a new awakening, a second nature grafted 
upon modern life, that no contradiction in life can 
be solved in deed without solving it in thought first; 
and that even this is futile unless men have attained 
the courage to live what they think and to carry it 



valiantly into their practical civilization. It is this 
sequestering of thought away from the world of 
action that has allowed the practical contradictions 
of our time to come to such a formidable crisis. It 
may be that this very crisis, perforce, will lead men 
to a new age of reason; an age in which the great 
verities will no longer be spurned or forgotten, but 
will assume their reasonable place in living. There 
have been times, now long past, when the great veri- 
ties touched life very closely and favorably; when 
literature, and painting, and sculpture, and archi- 
tecture, and music, and the institutions of society in 
general reflected them and by them were made great. 
At such times, the great verities may have been mis- 
conceived, but nevertheless they lived. To-day, a 
man may be acquainted with all these great human 
enterprises and still not find in them much that 
means a pervading faith in a moral order, let alone 
a religious order. These latter concerns have come 
to be regarded as things apart. If a man has time 
for them, very well, let him indulge in them as a 
something of spiritual luxury beyond the life he 
daily lives in the forum and the market. The time 
has come when our loyalties must be reversed in 
the name of logic and good sense. After all, there 
is only one loyalty for reasonable men who see 
things in a just perspective ; a loyalty above family, 
business, church, and state, because it includes all 
these, intensifies fealty to all these, and transfigures 
every one of these. 



If this practical meaning of ultimate truths is 
once apprehended by our age, the renaissance of its 
moral faith in them will be assured. And the most 
certain prophesy of any such renaissance of a peo- 
ple is the measure in which its practical life is 
already touched with a generous idealism; for a 
great idealism ever calls for something more, — a 
faith in the truths that justify it. 

Herein lies the A m erican hope. For in spite of 
her practical mood, America is already a nation of 
idealists. True, there are many who deny this; 
yet, to any one who knows the temper of the Ameri- 
can people, the accusation that they are funda- 
mentally materialistic and absorbed in the one busi- 
ness of amassing dollars is as stupidly silly as it is 
familiar. Of course we are busy developing the 
material resources of a new continent, we are work- 
ing with matter, molding it into cities and bridges 
and railroads and factories ; but working with mat- 
ter does not of itself make one a materialist, any 
more than working with oils and canvas makes an 
artist any less a follower after the gleam. The 
question is not whether one is busied with matter; 
it is whether one is making anything worth while 
of it. Of matter of the crassest Michelangelo builds 
St. Peter's. So, I think, it is with American mate- 
rialism, in spite of some undeniable tendencies to the 
contrary. Van Dyke characterizes the American 
people felicitously when he speaks of them as "a 
people of idealists engaged in a great practical 



task." 1 Butler points out that the entire history of 
the country testifies to the idealism of the American 
people; that the first settling of America was an 
adventure of idealists; that the Civil War was a 
struggle of idealists who were willing to die for 
loyalty to national ideals; that the insistence upon 
education and the faith in the power of knowledge 
are the insistence and faith of idealists. 2 Royce, 
contending for the same truth, adds as further evi- 
dence of our idealism "the rich differentiation of 
our national religious life, ' ' our notable civic pride, 
and our welcome to new doctrines, especially such 
as appeal to idealism through an inspiring creed. 
He even comments upon the excesses of our ideal- 
ism ! 3 Cole thinks that idealism is the chief Ameri- 
can trait ; and, answering the charge that Americans 
are absorbed in materialistic business, remarks that 
"the real thing in any life is not what we get and 
what we show and what we do, but it is what we 
think and what we feel and what we aspire to," and 
contends that the American idealism is to be found 
even in the absorption in those business interests 
which seem to belie it. For the joy which the Amer- 
ican of an increasingly prevalent sort finds in his 
business "comes chiefly from the sense of power, 
from the sense of victory in struggle, from the 
human meaning of the thing accomplished. With 

1 Henry van Dyke, The Spirit of America, p. xv. 
'Nicholas Murray Butler, The American As He Is, pp. 41, 68. 
a Josiah Eoyce, Race Questions and Other American Problems, pp. 



the business man of this type, ambition is directed 
chiefly toward a recognition in himself of the human 
qualities which give him attainment — rather than 
toward tangible things desirable for themselves." 4 
Nay, democracy is nothing material, and it cannot 
be measured in dollars and cents. It does not even 
exist yet! It is an ideal; but for this ideal Ameri- 
cans have been willing to die. If you want to see 
idealism, go to some small western city recently 
builded. A street of two score ramshackle buildings 
may be all there is; but listen to the glowing ac- 
count of what this "city" will some day be! The 
inhabitants may be but a few hundred now; but 
yonder will be the courthouse, yonder the great rail- 
way terminal, and the marts of trade have their ave- 
nues all laid out. For the old men see visions and 
the young men dream dreams. 


Paradoxically enough, this very idealism has be- 
come the source of a new crisis for American 
democracy. For, being a serious idealism, it has 
taken the inevitable form of an active criticism of 
prevailing institutions in so far as they contravene 
and baffle it. The universal talk of " social recon- 
struction" is a symptom of something deeper than 
the effects of war. Through his idealism it is that 
the American is gradually finding himself surprised 

4 William Morse Cole, The American Hope, pp. 6, 7. 



into a far-reaching social rebellion. For the funda- 
mental thing in any civilization, the disturbing 
thing, that which unlocks most of its secrets of un- 
rest and conflict, is to be found in what the average 
individual wants, what kind of life he demands to 
live, what sort of self he thinks he is entitled to be- 
come. This is only another way of saying that the 
fundamental thing in any civilization is its ethical 
ideal. For this and through this arises all social 
organization. Social institutions are functions of 
human desires objectified. All of them, political, 
economic, educational, religious, exist because men 
think that through them they can better get their 
wants fulfilled. So that, in a civilization under dem- 
ocratic control, social institutions ought to be reflec- 
tions of the ideals of life possessed by the people, 
indications of the sorts of selves the people want to 
become, the lives they want to live. 

But once formed, social institutions are notori- 
ously conservative. Conditions sometimes arise in 
which the average man grows beyond them. One 
comes upon an age of social rebellion whenever the 
individual has come to want a life and imperatively 
to demand a life beyond the power of his social insti- 
tutions to grant; when society cannot let him live 
the life he wants to live, be the self he wants to 

Now, this is precisely the condition in America to- 
day; the ideals of men have outreached the democ- 
racy they have thus far been able to build. For 



wonderful indeed — miraculous — would be the social 
organization that could keep pace with such an in- 
dividual awareness as America has created and is 
creating. Social institutions cannot break the bonds 
of tradition in a day. They were first created for 
the privileged few; they are now suddenly to fulfill 
without favor the demands of the ultimate many. 
They arose slowly and painfully upon foundations 
laid deep in an ancient order; and, abruptly, they 
must transform themselves to an ideal born of a 
new and universal enlightenment which, through an 
international crisis, has witnessed just enough of 
social upheaval and of adaptation to emergency to 
lessen any undue respect for the divine rights of 
institutions. Thus, the conditions of a widespread 
maladjustment are fulfilled. The social order can- 
not answer the individual's newly conceived needs; 
and yet the social order is newly viewed as highly 
capable of even sudden change. It is not that social 
institutions are any worse than they were. But the 
individual has recently changed so much faster than 
they could be remolded to his heart's desire that 
they are far worse relatively, and seem worse abso- 

Thus, economic and industrial justice have grown 
apace; but the problems of justice have been acute 
public matters of late, and the sense of justice has 
grown faster. So, of course, there is economic re- 
bellion. But it is economic rebellion only as an ex- 
pression of the individual's newly found ideal of 



what a self larger than the merely economic self 
should be allowed to become. 

So with education. The educational institution 
has made enormous progress. Even the "World "War 
aided it immensely with a new practical idealism. 
Before this, its methods had become more scientific, 
its curricula infinitely various, its advantages easy 
for the multitude. But recently intellectual needs, 
demands for expert efficiency, have grown still 
faster. So we have a distrust of the whole modern 
educational system, including higher education, 
which voices itself in such widespread criticism that 
one might easily be led to suppose that education is 
in its dotage. But this rebellion in education is only 
one more expression of the individual's awakening 
to a new ideal of life. 

So, too, with the region of the beautiful. Our sur- 
roundings have become more tolerable, our cities are 
being planned more and more from the standpoint 
of esthetic interests, the ugly is being gradually 
eliminated from the market and the home ; but men's 
sensibilities have been refined so much more rapidly, 
their tastes have been cultivated so immeasurably 
faster (to some extent through the new domination 
of French ideals), that there is even an esthetic re- 
bellion. But this unrest, like that in economics and 
politics and education, is only one small part of the 
recent man's demand that life assume for him a new 

So also with the church. Religion has broken 



from its long conservatism; for some time, it has 
been reconstructing its doctrines in terms of new 
sciences and broader aspirations; it iias become 
more tolerant, more ethical, more efficient. But it 
cannot keep pace with the demands of the man of 
modern culture, just come through an unpre- 
cedented trial of faith and reason, who may some- 
times seek among the churches in vain for what his 
soul needs ; whose reason is still unanswered in its 
call for those verities without which he cannot at- 
tune his life aright to the aspirations he has learned 
to esteem newly sacred. And the intensely practical 
needs of those beneath the cultural level are but 
vaguely and indecisively met by religious dogmas 
that cannot cope as successfully as they yet will 
with new social problems which, without an effective 
religious faith, cannot be permanently solved. So 
there is religious rebellion. But, again, it is no 
isolated phenomenon. It is just another token that 
the recent American has seen a new vision of a 
breadth and depth of living which his social insti- 
tutions have not yet been fashioned to fulfill. 

This social rebellion, however idealistically 
motived, might easily degenerate into sheer individ- 
ualism and anarchy, were it not for the illuminating 
fact that American idealism happens to include a 
democratic vision of the common welfare. While 
the individual American has the liberty to cherish 
any ideals that he pleases, the American doctrine of 
liberty is not that he may do as he pleases. It is a 



higher liberty than that ; it is a liberty that harmon- 
izes with the social good, that includes the social 
good in all its deeds. Otherwise, it is mere li- 

This freedom to seek the social good, not by coer- 
cion, but through one 's own reason, is the only kind 
of freedom that democracy's man desires. It is ex- 
pressed in the two freedoms most prized by the 
American people ; freedom of speech and freedom of 
the ballot. Through freedom of speech, every man 
has the chance to impress his own reason upon the 
rest ; and, through discussion of the rational convic- 
tions of all, to come to more clarified convictions of 
his own, thus aiding the social reason to defensible 
decisions. Through the freedom of the franchise, 
he is given the further and decisive means by which 
his individual conviction can be uttered definitely 
and be made effective. 

Thus, American idealism is saved from the empty 
freedom of caprice in two ways. It is freely sub- 
jected to social revision and its utterances pretend 
to be reasonable. Reason is, in truth, the only 
basis of social discussion, as it is of the individual's 
right to utter convictions at all. Freedom, in the 
American sense, is rational and social. Of what- 
ever else I am independent, I am not independent of 
the social reason. Nor do I want to be; so my 
very subjection is the supreme expression of my 

It is for this reason that social rebellion may well 



bring with it the beginnings of its own solution if 
it arises, as it does in America, through the ethical 
idealism of men. In any era of social progress, the 
individual is ahead of his social institutions; he 
must be if they are to advance at all; for only in 
response to his demands for better things do they 
develop. Evolution itself, by the way, may be in- 
terpreted as a history of constructive rebellions. It 
presupposes not only the will to live, but, as we 
have seen, an upward and selective will to progress, 
an inherent and vital dissatisfaction with the malad- 
justment between the individual and his environ- 
ment, together with a tendency to overturn adjust- 
ments, however momentarily perfect, by the develop- 
ment of new wants. 

But these general reasons are not the only or the 
chief reasons why idealism in America is a portent 
of good, not of evil. First, because of the social 
dependence of the modern individual, his rebellion 
will be the more speedily translated into social re- 
form. Second, because democracy at length recog- 
nizes this dependence as good, resulting in a deeper 
freedom than the individual has ever known — the 
deeper freedom of social self-realization — we in 
America tend to escape a danger that has belonged 
to all great social rebellions in the past; the danger 
that the individual wall venture to obtain "his own" 
by annulling society and reducing it to chaos. True, 
lawlessness among the American people has reached 
an alarming degree. And this is encouraged by 



the incredible laxity of the machinery of social 
justice. The tendencies to annul society are here 
in strength. They are part of a world-movement, 
which, in Eurpoe, has meant the overthrow of estab- 
lished orders. But such an outcome is simply im- 
possible in America. Here the individual has be- 
come too complexly social on a universal scale; his 
institutions are too strong, because they are not 
outside him, but within him. So his only salvation 
is reformation unceasing, never dissolution. Again, 
the danger of social dissolution in America is min- 
imized because the power of transformation is in 
the people's hands. Public opinion, when once it 
has attained decisive convictions, is almost imme- 
diately effective; first, through its many organs of 
easy dissemination; and, second, through the un- 
trammeled franchise. This public opinion was never 
more efficient in dictating social reforms, never more 
rational, and never before so possessed with the 
facilities for becoming universal, when its causes 
are worthy. 

Thus, in America at least, with the dangers of 
social rebellion minimized and with its ideals surer 
of sane effect, the individual who finds himself be- 
yond the social organization is society's greatest 
asset, provided always that he is not a traitor 
to democracy. His idealism is not a menace, 
but the only certain guarantee of democracy's 




But just here we come upon a difficulty. Just 
what is this new and larger ideal of life which the 
individual has acquired and which makes him so 
rebellious with the social organization as it is? 

As yet, Americans are not morally certain. It is 
this very uncertainty about moral ideals, an un- 
certainty born of moral conflict and skepticism, that 
has been our problem from the first; issuing at 
last in the attempt to construct a moral order and 
to make plain the truths it lives by. However, we 
have now come upon the redeeming fact that this 
uncertainty is not builded entirely upon the skepti- 
cism of mere indifference, but is an uncertainty that 
possesses all the hope of an idealism that seeks and, 
seeking, bespeaks the temper, if not yet the sub- 
stance, of undaunted faith. We Americans live in a 
future that we cannot analyze and yet that we con- 
fidently predict. The present may be as dark as 
you please, but we have faith that no crisis can de- 
feat us and that in the end all will be well. As 
for democracy, the facts may be of as evil portent 
as you will ; but it is the color of treason to doubt for 
one moment that democracy will triumph. There is 
no place in all America's future for Macaulay's New 
Zealander lamenting over a fallen civilization. 
America has no use for the " grouch." The pessi- 
mist is the failure. Our faith in our destinies is so 
incurable that even our novels and plays must have a 



happy ending. The sunny side of life is the true 
side. Tragedy is abnormal. Faith's robust laugh- 
ter is heard from Maine to California. The charac- 
teristic lack among Americans of speculative inter- 
est in ultimate philosophical questions does not arise 
so much from a reasoned skepticism as from an op- 
timistic confidence that, whatever the reality of 
things may seem, all is or will be right with the 
world. This confidence even becomes a sort of sub- 
lime and simple religion, the native religion of the 
American mind. 

So it happens that American idealism, although 
still undefined, is of such a nature that it means 
progress toward moral awareness and moral con- 
fidence; how, one might show through analyzing 
American ideals as they are actually emerging in 
our various social institutions. It is progress be- 
cause, wanting the undefined, our want is serious, 
so that we are discontented with such vagueness; 
and the only way out of such pernicious vagueness 
is a wholesome discontent with it. Out of such 
idealism, if it is serious enough, persistent enough, 
constructive enough, will come a clearer definition 
of the social ideal; an ideal worthier than America 
has before known, since it must satisfy the critical 
reason that has cast aside the old ideals as nar- 
row, insufficient, undemocratic, and unjust to the 
possibilities of human nature. This deeper ideal- 
ism, then, which is at the heart of all our institu- 
tional distrust, is the unrest of American democracy 



defining itself ! This defining is of itself progress ; 
but when the definition is achieved, then what prog- 
ress ! America will be truly born for the first time ; 
for nations, as men, are defined and found worthy in 
terms of the worth of their purposes and of their 
conscious loyalty to them. 

We are at the beginning of this ethical recon- 
struction now. Its failure would mean the failure 
of America for a long time, perhaps for always. 
For, due to the upheavals of a great world-crisis, 
American institutional ideals are plastic now as 
never before, and as they may never be again. The 
old institutional habits may easily regain their 
strength and challenge and destroy our newer 
dreams unless these are speedily formulated and 
made efficient. One is encouraged by the fact that 
the deeper and less obvious trends of American life 
are settling slowly but surely toward democratic 
deed and democratic awareness, especially the 
latter. In spite of undemocratic tendencies ; in spite 
of loud and clamorous movements plainly destruc- 
tive of democracy ; in spite of the defect, which must 
soon be remedied, that American institutions are 
too abstracted from one another and therefore con- 
flicting in their aims, and not welded together by 
a sufficiently defined and common purpose, they 
were never so self-conscious as now. The dawn of 
this self-consciousness is amply attested by con- 
temporary American literature, as well as by the 
large currents of our life as seen in politics, eco- 



nomics, and society, yes, in education and religion, 
which last we have seen to be emphatically setting 
toward a new awareness and achievement of the 
moral order for which America stands. Once the 
national consciousness was so negligible that Amer- 
icans had to rely upon foreign writers for the best 
appreciations of their country. Within a decade 
has arisen a literature on America by Americans 
which signifies a self-criticism not even distantly ap- 
proached by any other country in the history of the 
world. Every American institution shares in this 
self-discovery and appraisement; an appraisement 
often merciless, on the whole candid, and almost al- 
ways with the courage of the national optimism. 
This self-criticism may well herald the time when 
our various and now conflicting institutions shall 
become functions of a well-understood national 
character, unified and pervaded by the one ultimate 
and sublating vision of the moral order and that 
type of American which is its hope. 

Thus it is that American idealism, because of its 
social vision, and in spite of its social impatience; 
in spite, too, of its yet indefinite character and be- 
cause of its optimistic courage, is an earnest of the 
veritable renaissance of moral faith. Out of its 
loyalties will grow the reasoned apprehension of 
the meaning of the democracy it seeks and of the 
truths it needs. One cannot continually argue and 
fight and suffer and triumph in the name of such 
great ideas as man's equality, his freedom, his in- 



finite value, his measureless possibilities, his social 
and rational imperatives, without finding himself at 
length led, by the very exigencies of his faith, to 
the portals of those larger truths in which these 
others rest, to the spiritual democracy in which all 
lesser democracies live and triumph, — without faith 
in which there is no faith worth naming. 


Addison, on immortality, 152. 

American idealism, described, 
286-288; dangers of, 288- 
292; as social and rational, 
292-295 ; becoming more defi- 
nite, 296-300. 

Anselm, his proof of God, 186. 

Aristotle, 15, 138. 

Arnold, Matthew, on religion, 
258; quoted, 39, 161. 

Asceticism, as a moral stand- 
ard, 5-8; conciliated with 
hedonism, 33-37. 

Assumptions of science, 96, 97, 
269; proof of, 100-104; 
modification of, 222-228. 

Bacon, Francis, on death, 153. 

Barbusse, Henri, quoted, 181. 

Beauty, as a moral standard, 
43, 66; as the motive of the 
poet, 65; as an ideal, 144, 
149; as an attribute of God, 
164, 165, 172; as a recent 
motive, 291. 

Berkeley, as an idealist, 138. 

Body, tendency to reduce soul 
to, 121-124; mind not re- 
duced to, by psychology, 
131-137; reduction of, to 
mind, 137-139. 

Browning, as a philosophic 
poet, 59; quoted, 63, 189. 

Browning, Mrs., quoted, 5, 66, 

Bruno, Giordano, 75. 

Bryce, James, on sects in 
America, 271. 

Burnett, Frances Hodgson, 
quoted, 275. 

Burroughs, John, quoted, 203, 

Butler, Nicholas Murray, on 
equality, 252, 253; on Amer- 
ican idealism, 287. 

Byron, 129. 

Cole, William Morse, on Amer- 
ican idealism, 287, 288. 

Conflict, moral. See Moral 

Conscience, as a moral stand- 
ard, 5; analyzed by science, 
17; its worth, 43. 

Custom, as a moral standard, 
5, 29, 30; unsettled by 
science and the World War, 

Dante, as a philosopher, 58, 
59; his moral confidence, 51, 
66, 113. 

Darwin, Charles, 113. 

Democracy, threatened, 13; 
freedom of, 207; as a moral 
order, 247-257 ; attributes of, 
250-253; and religion, 270- 

Descartes, and the self, 230. 

Desire, the ultimate human, 



45-47, 106, 107, 113, 114. 

See also Will to live. 
Determinism. See Freedom. 
Dewey, John, on equality, 252. 
Dewey and Tufts, on religion 

and morals, 262. 
Dickens, quoted, 214. 
Dogmatism, popular, 140, 141; 

scientific, 90, 91, 277, 278. 
Diihring, Eugen Carl, 130. 

Eckhart, Meister, 60. 

Education, as stressing the in- 
dividual, 11; unrest in, 291. 

Eliot, George, quoted, 125. 

Emerson, on immortality, 153; 
on God, 188, 276 ; on religion 
and morals, 263, 264; quoted, 

Equality, 11, 252, 253. 

Ethics, defective, reared on 
science, 74-76, 81-85. See 
also Moral order, Moral 

Euripides, 215. 

Evil, problem of, 239-242. 

Evolution, moral interpreta- 
tion of, 54, 158, ISO, 294; 
uncritical expansion of, 70, 
71; the moral ideal of, 71, 
83, 84; assumptions of, 96; 
presupposes the will to live, 
145, 146 ; qualitative as well 
as quantitative, 146; as 
deterministic, 219, 220. 

Faguet, Emile, on sects in 
America, 271. 

Faith, moral. See Moral con- 

Fatalism. See Freedom. 

Fichte, 138. 

Foch, 51. 

Freedom, popular meaning of, 

195, 196; practical faith in, 

196, 197, 202, 203; theoreti- 
cal doubt of, 197, 198; rea- 
sons for doubting, 198, 199; 
as necessary for a moral 
order, 55, 199-205, 206, 215- 
218, 253 ; problem of, ana- 
lyzed, 205, 206; undesirable 
kinds of, 206-210 ; of choice, 
defined, 210-215; of choice, 
arguments against, 72, 218- 
221 ; failure of science to dis- 
prove, 78-81, 221-230; as 
inner necessity, 230-233; of 
choice, proof of, 234—236 ; 
conciliation of, with deter- 
minism, 243; threatened by 
certain ideas of God, 193, 
194, 198, 199, 236-242, 276; 
in democracy, 253, 292, 293; 
in religion, 272, 273. 

Froude, J. A., 220. 

Galsworthy, John, quoted, 92, 

Glanvill, Joseph, on death, 160, 

God, not disproved by science, 
78-81, 89-91, 167-169 ; proof 
of, 109, 162-194; revival of 
interest in problem of, 162 ; 
definition of, 164, 165, 182, 
183 ; moral value of, 55, 164, 
165, 191, 192 ; not proved by 
science, 165-167; defective 
proofs of, 169, 186, 1S7; as 
a moral ideal, 170-183, 192; 
as the Perfect Person, 172, 
173; inclusive of all moral 
deeds, 176-178; includes na- 



ture, 178-181; includes the 
social whole, 181, 182 ; Chris- 
tian conception of, 189-191; 
as threatening freedom, 193, 
194, 198, 199, 236-242, 276. 

Goethe, his Faust referred to, 
35; as a philosophic poet, 59. 

Goodness, as the motive of the 
prophet, 65; as an endless 
search, 144, 148, 149; as an 
attribute of God, 164, 165, 

Government, social control 
through, 41; freedom from, 
undesirable, 206, 207. 

Haeckel, Ernst, 70. 

Hardy, Thomas, as a fatalist, 

Hartmann, von, his pessimism, 

Hedonism, conflict of, with 
self-sacrifice, 6-8; as the 
standard of society, 6, 7; of 
youth, 21; one-sidedness of, 
34, 35; conciliation of, with 
self-sacrifice, 35-37 ; psych- 
ologic inadequacy, 35; scien- 
tific, 81-83 ; as a corollary of 
fatalism, 204. 

Hegel, 138. 

Henley, William E., 196. 

Howison, George Holmes, on 
the assumptions of evolution, 
96; on the changing past, 

Idealism, impractical, 282; 

practical, 283-286. See also 

American idealism. 
Ideals, as facts, 143, 144. See 

aho Moral standards. 

Immortality, indifference to 
problem of, 119; practical 
value of, 55, 119, 120; ages 
that believed in, 120; proof 
of, must be rational, 120, 
121 ; attempts to prove within 
materialism, 124-130 ; fail- 
ure of science to prove, 72, 
124—126 ; failure of spiritual- 
ism to prove, 126-129; proof 
of, beyond science's limits, 
78-81, 89-91, 130-137; 
proved, if body reduced to 
mind, 137-139 ; technical 
ways of proving, 139-142; 
proof of, from the nature of 
the moral order, 143-155; 
as individual, 155; as in- 
volving everlasting progress, 
155-157; unsolved questions 
concerning, 157, 158; as con- 
ditional, 159-161. 

Individual and society. See 
Society and the individual. 

Ingersoll, Robert G., on life's 
futility, 150. 

Interactionism, vs. Parallelism, 
132-136; does not reduce 
mind to body, 135, 136. 

James, William, on moral vs. 
scientific demands, 109; on 
free will, 227, 228; quoted, 

Jeanne d'Arc, 51. 

Jesus, his moral standard, 30 ; 
on immortality, 154; a tradi- 
tional saying of, 188 ; as a 
moral ideal, 263, 274; as 
a practical idealist, 283, 

John, St., quoted, 189, 190. 



Jordan, David Starr, quoted, Moral confidence, as a current 

lack, 50; conditions of, 51- 
57; common to great men 
and civilizations, 51, 52; re- 
quires faith in the triumph 
of righteousness, 53, 54; in- 
volves convictions concern- 
ing God, Immortality, and 
Freedom, 55, 56; rests on a 
world view, 58 ; religion as 
the support of, 56, 66; 
science alone cannot guaran- 
tee, 69-91; needed for 
science, 110, 111; based on 
an ultimate Fact, 113, 114, 
145, 158; inevitability of, 
159; need of immortality 
for, 154; need of God for, 
192 ; presupposes freedom, 
205; present tendencies to- 
ward, 247-300; and religion, 
258-279; the renaissance of, 

Moral conflict, its present 
varieties, 3-23; as expressed 
in the average American, 9, 
10; causes of, 14-19; effects 
of, 19-22 ; as a stage of prog- 
ress, 23, 25; resolved to a 
conflict of ideals, 32, 33; 
solution of, 24-50, 247, 248; 
in religion, 264-270. See 
also Hedonism, Reason, So^ 
ciety and the individual, 
Theoretical vs. Practical. 

Moral order, the, involved in 
the desire for life, 108; pre- 
supposed by science, 110, 
111; more certainly justified 
than science, 110, 111; as 
proving immortality, 143- 
155, 255; need of God for, 


Kant, mentioned, 67; and im- 
mortality, 120; on the King- 
dom of Ends, 251; on morals 
and religion, 263. 

Kipling, quoted, 39. 

Ladd, George Trumbull, on in- 
teraction of body and mind, 
132, 133. 

Leibnitz, 120, 138. 

Lessing, on the search for 
truth, 156. 

Life, as the justification of 
science, 104, 105; proof of 
desirability of, 106, 107. See 
also Will to live. 

Lincoln, 51. 

Locke, John, on the limits of 
knowledge, 48. 

Longfellow, quoted, 61. 

Lowell, James Russell, quoted, 
18, 53; mentioned, 252. 

Lucretius, as a philosophic 
poet, 59; on death, 123, 124; 
as an atheist, 187. 

Macaulay, quoted, 34; men- 
tioned, 296. 

Mackenzie, J. S., on religion 
and morals, 258. 

Matter. See Body, Nature. 

Michelangelo, his idealism, 286. 

Mill, John Stuart, quoted, 181. 

Mind, tendency to identify it 
with the body, 121-124 ; psy- 
chology fails to reduce it to 
the body, 131-137; not the 
subject of modern psy- 
chology, 136; body may be 
reduced to, 137-139. 



164, 165, 191, 192, 255, 256; 
includes nature, 178-181; in- 
cludes the social whole, 181, 
182, 253; and religion, 192; 
need of freedom for, 199- 
205, 206, 215-218, 253, 255; 
as democracy, 247-257. 
Moral standard, of asceticism, 
5-8 ; of conscience, 5, 17, 43 ; 
of custom, 5, 29, 30; of hap- 
piness, 5; of law, 5; of na- 
ture, 5; of pleasure, 6-8; of 
reason, 5, 43; of revelation, 
5; of will, 5, 43; each im- 
plies the rest, 26-43; his- 
torical growth of, 27-32; the 
true, 44-50, 115, 150, 156, 
157, 159, 247, 248, 256; how 
proved, 92-115; God as the, 
164, 170-175, 183; includes 
nature, 176; dynamic, 176- 
178; social nature of, 37-42, 
176. See also Self-realiza- 

Napoleon, 283, 284. 

Nature, as related to God, 176, 
178-181 ; as a proof of God, 
186, 187; as mechanistic, 
198, 218-221; freedom from 
laws of, undesirable, 207- 
210; does not disprove free- 
dom of choice, 221-230. 

Omar Khayyam, quoted, 76, 
194, 198, 204. 

Parallelism, vs. Interactionism, 
132-136; does not reduce 
mind to body, 133-135. 

Parker, Theodore, 263. 

Parmenides, as a poet, 59. 

Paul, St., and moral valor, 66, 
113; on immortality, 130. 

Perfect, the idea of the, 170- 

Perry, Ralph Barton, on reli- 
gion and morals, 258. 

Philosopher, the, tends to be- 
come a poet, 59, 60; and re- 
ligion, 60 ; aim of, 60, 61 ; 
method of, 62, 112; language 
of, 62-64; motive of, 65; 
neglect of, 67; new interest 
in, 278. 

Plato, on the Grecian virtues, 
31; and Wordsworth, 59; as 
a poet, 59, 60; moral ideal- 
ism of, 75, 113; and immor- 
tality, 120, 131; doctrine of 
ideas, 138. 

Pleasure. See Hedonism. 

Poet, the, tends to become a 
philosopher, 58 ; and religion, 
60; aim of, 60, 61; method 
of, 62, 113 ; language of, 62- 
64; motive of, 65; recent 
neglect of, 66, 67; new inter- 
est in, 278, 279. 

Pope, Alexander, quoted, 61. 

Practical vs. Theoretical. See 
Theoretical vs. Practical. 

Progress, and skepticism, 19; 
through contradictions, 23 ; 
test of scientific, 110; im- 
mortality as, 155-157; re- 
lated to God, 167; presup- 
poses freedom, 204, 205. 

Proof, moral, defined and illus- 
trated, 92-115; methods of, 
beyond science, 93-99; of 
scientific assumptions, 100- 
104; moral, based on nature 



of desire for life, 108, 109; 
of immortality, 119-161; of 
God, 162-194; of freedom, 
195-244; moral vs. intel- 
lectual, 185, 186. 

Prophet, the, tends to become 
a philosopher and a poet, 
60; aim of, 60, 61; method 
of, 62, 113 ; language of, 62- 
64; motive of, 65; recent 
neglect of, 67; new interest 
in, 279. 

Psychology, dissipates myster- 
ies, 16 ; cannot justify a soul, 
71, 72; subject matter of, 
87; thought to reduce soul to 
body, 122, 123; failure of, 
to' reduce soul to body, 131- 
137; as deterministic, 209; 
does not disprove freedom of 
choice, 226, 227. 

Eeason, as a moral standard, 
5, 43, 66; as synonymous 
with science, 15, 67, 70, 
92; as the motive of the 
philosopher, 65 ; is more than 
science, 93-99; as an at- 
tribute of God, 164, 165; as 
an attribute of democracy, 
253, 293; and faith, 265, 
268-270, 273, 274, 276, 277. 

Reconstruction, ethical, needed, 
22, 23; its conditions, 56; 
now occurring, 298-300. 

Religion, scientific, 16; revived 
by the "World War, 56; re- 
cent neglect of, 67; and the 
moral order, 261-264; and 
moral confidence, 56, 66, 192, 
258-279; moral motive of, 
258-261; caught in current 

contradictions, 264-266 ; solu- 
tion of contradictions in, 
266-270 ; and democracy, 
270-275 ; and self-realization, 
274, 275; social tendencies 
in, 275; rational tendencies 
in, 276, 277; unrest in, 291, 
292. See also Prophet. 

Revelation, as a moral stand- 
ard, 5; and science, 17; un- 
critical, 56. 

Richter, Jean Paul, on death, 

Royce, Josiah, as a religious 
philosopher, 60 ; as an ideal- 
ist, 138; on American ideal- 
ism, 287. 

Ruskin, quoted, 147. 

Schopenhauer, his pessimism, 

Science, natural, regarded as 
coextensive with reason, 15, 
67, 70, 92; as a cause of 
moral conflict and skepticism, 
15-18; and the arts, 15, 16; 
and custom, 16, 17; and ef- 
ficiency, 15 ; as characteriz- 
ing our civilization, 67, 68; 
misapprehension of, 69; the 
world-view of, 71-74, 77-81; 
defective ethics reared upon, 
74-76, 81-85; subject mat- 
ter and method of, 80, 81; is 
abstract, 88; moral outcome 
of, is agnosticism, 90; dog- 
matism of, 90, 91, 277, 278; 
need for exact definition of, 
91; does not exhaust reason, 
93-99; assumptions of, 96, 
97, 100-104, 222-228, 269; 



justification of, 104-107, 192, 
193; presupposes a moral 
order, 110, 111, 178-181, 
185; true function of, 111, 
112; failure of, to prove or 
disprove immortality, 72, 
124-126, 130-137; failure of, 
to prove or disprove God, 71, 
165-169 ; as necessitarian, 
72, 198, 208-210, 218-221; 
failure of, to disprove free- 
dom of choice, 221-230; its 
freedom of inner necessity, 
230-233 ; and religion, 16, 17, 
265, 268-270, 273, 274. See 
also Social sciences. 

Self, ultimate nature of the, 
228-230, 250-253; as social, 
37-42, 176, 181, 182, 253, 
275; priceless worth of, 251, 
270, 271. 

Self-realization, total, as the 
true moral standard, 46-50, 
115, 150, 156, 157, 247, 248, 
256 ; God as the type of, 
170-183, 192 ; religious 
tendencies toward, 274, 275. 

Self-sacrifice. See Asceticism. 

Shakespeare, and the moral 
order, 59; quoted, 62, 130. 

Shelley, quoted, 174, 247. 

Skepticism, moral, 3, 4, 13-23 ; 
causes of, 14-19; effects of, 
19-22; as a stage of think- 
ing, 24, 25; solution of, 24- 
50; logical errors in, 26, 27; 
religious, 56 ; concerning im- 
mortalitv, 121, 142; concern- 
ing God, 163; concerning 
freedom, 197-199. 

Social sciences, inadequate to 
prove moral ideals, 86-89. 

Social unrest, American, 20, 21, 

Society and the individual, 
conflict between, 10-13, 288- 
292; conciliated, 37-42, 176, 
181, 182, 253, 275, 292-295. 

Socrates and law, 42 ; his moral 
faith, 66, 75; and immortal- 
ity, 131; his belief in gods, 

Soul, the, science cannot prove, 
71, 72, 136. See also Mind, 

Space, as a scientific assump- 
tion, 96; nature of, involved 
in proof of immortality, 141, 

Spencer, Herbert, on breadth 
of life, 49; on cosmic evolu- 
tion, 70. 

Spiritualism, failure of, to 
prove immortality, 126-129; 
not involved in proof of im- 
mortality, 157. 

Stephen, Fitz James, quoted, 

Swinburne, on man as a par- 
adox, 73, 74. 

Ten Commandments, 29-31. 

Tennyson, as a philosophic 
poet, 59; quoted, 14, 49, 59, 
64, 72, 110, 153, 188, 260, 

Thales, on death, 158. 

Theoretical vs. Practical, 14, 
280, 281 ; in conceptions of 
freedom, 196-198 ; concilia- 
tion of, 281-286. 

Time, as a scientific assump- 
tion, 96; nature of, involved 



in proof of immortality, 141, 
142; as a flux, 241. 

Totality of Things, the, 165- 
167, 183, 186. 

Triumph of righteousness, 
necessity of belief in, 53, 54; 
God as the guaranty of, 164, 

Truth, related to the rational, 
the beautiful, and the good, 
65, 113, 114, 150; moral, 
proof of, 92-115; as an end- 
less search, 144, 147, 148 ; as 
an attribute of God, 164, 165, 

Uniformity of Nature, Law of 
the, as a scientific assump- 
tion, 96; proof of, 100-104; 
not necessarily universal, 

Universal Causation, Law of, 
as a scientific assumption, 
96; proof of, 100-104; modi- 
fication of, 222-228. 

Unknowable, the, as God, 71, 

Van Dyke, Henry, on Ameri- 
can idealism, 286, 287. 

Van Dyke, John C, quoted, 9. 

Vaughn, Henry, quoted, 63. 

Verities, the great, new ground- 
ing of them needed, 56, 57, 
276, 277; must be proved by 
reason, 93; true proof of, 
109, 119-244; involve democ- 
racy, 250-253; needed by 
democracy, 254-256, 285. 
See also Freedom, God, and 

Vinci, da, Leonardo, idealism 
of, 75. 

Wells, H. G., quoted, 22, 23, 

Whitman, Walt, quoted, 157, 
179; mentioned, 30. 

Will to live, analyzed, 145-151. 
See also Desire. 

Wordsworth, as a philosophic 
poet, 59; quoted, 63, 64. 

World War, the, as a cause of 
moral conflict and skepticism, 
18, 19; as a social unifier, 
40; and the revival of re- 
ligion, 56, 67 ; as a stimulator 
of poetry, 66, 67; as a modi- 
fier of traditions, 92; as a 
struggle for freedom, 196; 
and literature, 278, 279.